Image courtesy of Flickr user thedz_
The web has been abuzz for the past few days (pun intended) about how Facebook revelations about drunken revels might reveal that someone has a drinking problem. ZDNet's own Emil Protalinski covered the story just yesterday.
This isn't necessarily a new phenomenon when you think about it. I would imagine that throughout history, the people who have made the most verbal self-references to being hung over, or gleefully announced their plans to "get smashed" over the weekend, or made regular comment to anyone within earshot about the way spirits affect the spirit, have probably been the unfortunate folks who, sooner or later, have had to battle addictions issues.
What is new, however, is the fact that Facebook is forever and that the future is always within earshot.
On one hand, experts are pointing out that social networking may be a tool that could facilitate early intervention in cases where Facebook brings to light a possible drinking problem.
On the other hand, Facebook's new timeline feature might serve to socially stigmatize a person well after college bouts of binge drinking behavior are a thing of the past. With more and more stories of potential employers expecting to "friend" their potential hires, and a job market that is becoming increasingly competitive, this can have potentially serious consequences.
It is absolutely not my intention to make light of alcoholism, or to suggest we do away with an opportunity for early detection and intervention. I am just kind of concerned about what can happen to a person's life when their own ill-advised drunken Facebook posts become the "friend" that never goes away.
Whether someone once had a challenge with chronic drinking and outgrew or overcame the behavior, someone has an active addiction to alcohol, or someone has achieved sobriety and wishes to stay sober, Facebook could make saving face harder. And people who are already dealing with addiction really don't need anything to make it worse.