It's been a while since I last posted anything online, having almost severed my ties with Facebook. I've been so focussed on work over the past year or so, with the past few months being particularly taxing, that having the energy to check the daily Facebook feed was unlikely at best and non-existent most of the time. When I did make the effort to login and load up the posts, it wasn't long before I began to regret it. Except for the odd funny graphic or quote from one of my friends, there really wasn't any great content. Certainly nothing meaningful or likely to further humanity. In fact, I'd go so far as to say Facebook is only ever going to cause humanity harm. This comment might be labelled sensationalist, some might call it paranoid, and I doubt more than a handful would agree but, I stand by it. For many, simply having the ability to freely type something on their device and have it instantly published to the web is enough for them to believe they have free speech, and everyone knows free speech is good, right? Well, whilst I agree with the notion of free speech, I don't believe this form of free speech is good. I can almost hear people jeering that I'm in some way favouring a censored society but trust me I'm not. What I meant is that whilst the average person is convinced they are writing what they believe to be their ideas and their opinions, It's often plain to see that they are simply swaying with the majority or the latest fad ideas to spread across social media. Social media. Perhaps this might be better titled "social experiment?" It always amazes me what people repeat without question. I'm no psychology expert, merely an interested observer, but there have actually been proper studies into this mass conformity I see played out on Facebook every day. Probably the most famous of which is Solomon Asch's "Opinions and Social Pressure." In this experiment he showed that normal, rational, intelligent individuals can be, and often are, easily swayed from what they know to be true just because their surrounding peers are saying something different. On top of that, now the world is looking online for it's fix of information, there seems to be a strange race to get things out there first - leading to another weird behaviour, whereby all rational thought regarding a situation or topic is pushed to the back by the urge to re-post - online gossiping if you will. The term 'jumping on the bandwagon' springs to my mind. So, we have a mind-boggling desire to conform, coupled with the urge to get things out there "as it happens"... a recipe for fast-spreading nonsense at best. This has been shown many times in the past yet it still continues to happen. Rational, professional people still re-post nonsense like "Zuckerberg is giving away millions of dollars to random people who re-post" - A simple Google search on that subject had multiple pages of statements from the company denying all knowledge. It was clearly a hoax. It doesn't take much effort or thought to clarify yet, people would rather just repeat. Not long before I began my Facebook sabatical, I entered into an online conversation with someone who began lecturing me about psychology as a way to prove that all (yes, all) "conspiracy theorists" are a menace to society, right-wing hoodlums, and bandwagon jumpers. This 'lecturer' had clearly read all the mass media articles on the subject as all the usual stereotypes and prejudices were obvious. The basic argument being that "everyone knows," which is a premise that shouldn't be in the arsenal of anyone who proclaims to have an interest in critical thought. My point?... I wonder how many people out there in social media land actually believe that there are serious questions to be asked of our politicians, industrialists, media-moguls, those who gain by our acquiesence, yet they choose to remain silent for fear of the social backlash? People would rather conform to the accepted media interpretation of those who question events and call them "conspiracy theorists." I think those who have silent, internal doubts are the ones most likely to be harsh and condemning of the theorists rather than just let the harmless fools talk nonsense. As if even a single occasion of this "normal" person agreeing (or indeed, not disagreeing) with a "theorist," would ruin their social standing, or their very sanity!? Maybe it would. That's the sad state of our current reality. Will I be returning to Facebook any time soon? Not likely.