Facebook is a bloody powerful thing. It lets us snoop on everyone’s lives and shows you just how many of your distant relatives are a little bit racist.
It pretty much destroys any need for school reunions, because everyone knows what everyone’s been up to anyway.
It’s used as a venting space, and a platform to buy, swap, and sell shit. We find housemates on Facebook, hide our parents from half the things we post, and un-tag ourselves from literally every night out ever.
But Facebook seems to be developing into something of worth – it’s becoming the new Neighbourhood Watch. It’s a place where people can post about a good or bad experience they’ve had, or something they’ve found (or lost), and the sheer ~power of the Internet~ is making magic happen to serve justice.
We’ve always known it as the ‘six degrees of separation’, but thanks to social media like Facebook it’s actually a lot more like three-and-a-half degrees. That’s terrifying, but calming to know that my network of pals is further reaching than ever before.
But how are we, as good and responsible netizens of the Online Community™ using the fact that we’re in each other’s pockets for good?
We’re all squished together in this weird place that shifts between online and reality, and communities like Facebook are really powerful tools to have in our belts.
Since Facebook gives us the chance to select our audiences, we can cultivate our own spaces where we feel safe to talk about things that we might not have the guts to do face-to-face.
It allows us to be eloquent with our words, which is especially handy when we’re discussing something that hits close to home, because I know for a fact that I turn into a blustering mess trying to get all of my thoughts out at once.
Because of this hella nifty thing, we’ve seen more social justice happening in online communities. People have the ability to call out the bullshit that they see online and in the real, physical world.
In the last few months I’ve come across many posts where people are pointing out the bad behaviour of others in my feed. Friends are sharing PSAs and warnings of dangerous people to keep their friends safe, and create solidarity in their wider friendship groups.
Susannah Jack recently shared an experience they had with their yoga instructor, and the support and solidarity they received online allowed them to shake the feelings of guilt and anguish a lot quicker than if they were left to mull it over themselves.
“It’s putting it to your community first; gauging whether it’s valid,” Susannah tells Pedestrian.TV.
Susannah says that the post also allowed people to come forward and give them tools for empowerment.
One friend offered practical help by letting Susannah know who to contact to report the instructor’s behaviour – something that they admitted they wouldn’t have thought of until someone else made the suggestion.
Solidarity in numbers is something that was helpful for Naomi Beveridge when she recently held a tattoo studio in Melbourne accountable for the gross actions of one of their artists.
Naomi says that as one person took the “brave step” of coming out and sharing the experiences they had with the artist, it gave her the motivation to do something about it.
“Hundreds of people rallied together in mere hours, and it wouldn’t have happened without social media,” Naomi says.
After she publicly called for the studio to get rid of the perp on their Instagram, more people came forward with their own stories of the creep being an A-grade creep.
It seems like it’s not just the original offender who gets held accountable in these conversations, either.
People who defend the scumbags, or attempt to troll those who are sharing their experiences are being held immediately accountable and responsible for their words, and tend to get shut down faster than they can type another bullshit remark.
It’s not just calling out shit behaviour that lends itself to the Neighbourhood Watch of Facebook, our four-legged friends unknowingly benefit from the swarm mentality of online communities.
Usually any time there’s fireworks (which in Sydney is every fucking weekend), someone in my news feed will either post that their dog got spooked and bolted, or they’ve opened the front door to a scared, lost animal in their yard.
Within a few days, the escapee is back with its respectful humans.
The strike rate of people finding the owners of lost junk is incredible. Even last week we saw a stolen dog grooming van with three pups inside returned within hours thanks to the power of social media sharing.
So I guess as much as we shrugged off the idea of Neighbourhood Watch as being heaps naff when we were younger, we’ve actually become the next incarnation of a united and supportive network of humans.
We’re just tryna look out for each other (and our lost doggos) and make it through life relatively unscathed.
The Internet, it’s good. Sometimes.
Photo: Comedy Central.