I recently read a story about how Facebook now makes it easier for users to get help if they express suicidal thoughts or feelings. The social network site will now have a link that friends can click on next to a comment on their page that connects the person with a suicide hotline. After clicking the link, Facebook then sends an email to the person who posted the comment encouraging that user to call the hotline or click a link for a confidential chat.
While this is not a bad idea, do you think that it actually will work? What if I was to put a comment on my page that was sarcastic or cynical in nature but a friend interpreted it as a serious matter? Would receiving this kind of communication from my social media site, by accident, give the wrong message? What I mean is, would it give not a message of concern, but a message of “wow, I can’t be sarcastic on this site anymore!” and potentially it could backfire?
Perhaps it would be something as simple as closing a window and writing it off as a mistake on your friend’s part and thinking nothing of it. Still, it opens the door for technology to get a bit more involved into our personal life, if not only a tiny bit. It is a good thing to direct someone in need for help, but it is another when technology can eventually get out of hand.
I am reminded of one of those futuristic movies where if someone makes a comment about suicide in his or her house, then a hologram of a crisis counselor would suddenly pop up and try to “help” the person. Watching this scene of the movie might make us roll our eyes or even laugh at the thought of technology getting to that point, but, my goodness, it looks like this could soon be a reality. Facebook says the goal is to get a person in distress help as quickly as possible, and who can argue with that?
I wonder how far these features will continue. I mean, what if someone says something psychotic on their status update? What if someone says that they want to kill their boss or teacher? Can friends really determine whether someone is in real distress or that they are just saying whatever crap that comes to mind because of anger?
I say if a friend really does sense that someone is in danger of hurting someone, than that person needs to talk with that person and address it—before anyone clicks on a ‘link.’
User: Hey man, I thought you were my friend, why didn’t you try to reach out? Why didn’t you try to help me?
Friend of User: Well, I did click on the link. Didn’t Facebook refer you to a counselor or something?
User: Oh. I see. You clicked on the link.
Now, I still say that this new program is a good idea, and if it helps some people, then fantastic. I like to poke at the extremes, because we can see how technology can take us to places or situations in life that are definitely new to our social conventions. Let’s hope these features for Facebook will be used and not abused. What do you think? Is this a good idea? Send us your comments.