Facebook has become our collective conscience. Is that a good thing?

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Over the weekend a Mom posted on Facebook a response to the ugly comments she received for baring her stretch marks while at the beach.

Since then the post has been liked, commented, and shared more than a million times, and was seen by millions more. She received support and encouragement for sharing the update and for exposing herself to public evaluation of both her stretch mark ordeal and the response to those who made them.

What’s profound about this story to me is that so many people were able to share in this woman’s experience, provide her feedback and share with others, but also implicitly send a message that women who bare their stretch marks should be supported, not ridiculed.

facebook collective conversationAnd Facbeook is the reason. Love it or hate it, no other medium in history has enabled a real-time two way conversation among people and into the lives of 1/6th our planet.

My basic understanding of a conscience is that it is a set of norms, values and ideals that are constantly being tested, evaluated and updated based on the latest information and the collective experiences of our past.  By allowing us to listen, comment, and share on anything and everything in our lives, Facebook has created a collective conscience larger and more meaningful than anything else in human history.

Anyone with a cell phone and Facebook account can be part of a global conversation or be the center of that story. For the mom and her stretch marks this has been a positive experience, but probably not for the young people who shammed her.

My feeling is that we are beginning a journey with social networking that will deeply impact how we govern our behaviors, thoughts, and actions towards ourselves and others.

The one thing I remember from Algebra is there is always a balancing of the equation. So what does the downside look like of this collective conscience? Will people be willing to share if those thoughts or ideals go against the collective judgement? Will we be quick to judge others, and cause more harm, before getting all of the facts, or taking time to reflect on our true feelings?




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