I read this insightful article on ReadWriteWeb today about the consequences of a man who killed his recently estranged wife when he saw her Facebook status change to “single”. It brings up a lot of good questions about the hyper-aware world that has been created by social networks. Do we teach kids new lessons growing up because of these new online oriented associations we have with each other? How nothing we do online is a secret (unless you know how to keep it one). Here’s some excerpts.
UK police have reported that a man who murdered his wife this Spring did so because he was upset after seeing her change her marital status to “single” on Facebook, according to coverage today from the BBC. This looks like a horrible story with a sensationalist internet component, but it’s actually more culturally significant than that.
The integration of new social networking into the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world is dramatically changing communication and introducing unknown new dynamics into ages old-interpersonal issues, including psychosis and violence. There are new questions to ask.
Was the woman aware that by changing her status, the man would receive a post on his Facebook newsfeed? Did she know how to exclude him from such updates if she had wished to? Did the man worry that he would be publicly humiliated when other people received the same kind of notice on their newsfeed? Did he picture a particular group of people who would see it and was that picture accurate? Do we need to teach children new social skills about dealing with semi-public information online, like the end of a relationship?