Facebook PDA-To Laugh, or Not to Laugh, That is the Question

It’s that time of year again. It’s getting warmer (well, not really…), the color pink is everywhere, and you will be surrounded by love. Or at least have to deal with St. Valentine’s Day. And if you’re part of the approximately 50% of Americans who have a Facebook account, you’re going to have to deal with a deluge of posts:

“Happy 1 year! I love you baby!”

“You’re so sexy!”

“I can’t wait to see my hubby tonight!”

(Courtesy of Lamebook.com)

And many, many more. I’ll let your imagination fill in the rest.

The acronym “PDA” has gotten quite a bit of mileage out of it-from the Personal Digital Assistant to the Photo Diode Array to the Posterior Descending Artery to the Progressive Democrats of America. But now, PDA has settled into a newer and (for the time being) more permanent home: Public Displays of Affection. In fact, there is even a new term for a particular niche of PDA: the Facebook PDA, or PDA that is public (on the internet, at least) on Facebook.

Come next Monday, the internet will be filled with phrases like this. Should messages that most people would consider to be private really be shared in a public online space? Of course, it is up to the individuals committing the act (assuming the actions are legal) whether that should be allowed. But the real question is far reaching: is it alright for something to then leave the “private” realm of Facebook to be placed on sites such as Lamebook?

Naturally, there are two common responses to this question. One could take the more conservative route, claiming that a statement of this nature shared on a private website, such as Facebook, should be visible to those with whom it is shared. One could alternatively take a more liberal route, saying that anything that is placed onto the internet in an accessible manner is part of a public online realm, and thus can be shared with other people. In some ways, either of these approaches are acceptable-but the fundamental ethical question still remains: should people be allowed to repost and comment objects that they find on the internet onto other sites?

After considering how intricately social networking sites intertwine with our personal lives, it can be assumed that people are often putting their thoughts, feelings, and inner beliefs on their Facebook pages. Perhaps we feel that because we would not want all of our own personal information available on the web to be shared, we should likewise not share that of others. Nobody, whether in person or on a semi-private online realm, wants the details of their personal lives shared, and thus, you really should not do that to others. But if we take a different perspective, one where doing the right thing is simply doing the thing that makes the most people happy, maybe it is all right to post Facebook comments on a blog. A post online can make many people very happy, but it certainly can’t make a single person terrible unhappy. Without context, what does “You’re so sexy!” mean anyways?

In any case, as your Facebook feed this Valentine’s Day is filled with millions of random Facebook PDA posts from so called “friends,” consider your actions as you either laugh inside at your desk or laugh with millions of others on a blog.