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Opening Arguments

Facebook Follies

I see Indiana has gone and gotten famous again while I was on vacation, i.e., "Judge Upholds Ind. Facebook Ban for Sex Offenders." The decision, I'm sure, will engage us in our usual arguments about how far we can go in restricting people who might commit a crime and how carefully we should tread when enacting laws that affect only selected groups instead of everyone. But on my initial reading of the story, this observation of the judge's is what caught my attention:

"The Court readily concedes that social networking is a prominent feature of modern-day society; however, communication does not begin with a 'Facebook wall post' and end with a '140-character Tweet,' " she wrote.

Yes, indeed. Have you seen that commercial where the girl is feeling sorry for her parents because the poor anti-social dears are up to only 19 Facebook friends? "I have 687 friends!" she exclaims as the camera shows the parents out tearing up the roads in their Toyota and living a real life. I think that pretty well describes where we are now. People are substituting Facebook friendships for real interactions with flesh-and-blood people. Enough!

On the other hand, maybe there's a good reason to encourage sex offenders to go online:

BOSTON (CBSDC) - Food, sex and Facebook posting views. It’s what your brain likes best.

The reward given by a person’s brain when a Facebook posting of theirs is viewed, liked and commented on has proven to be comparable in pleasure to the response from food and sex, according to a recent Harvard University study.

Of course, we'd have to persuade the sex offenders to play with Facebook instead of playing with children, rather than in addition to. Might be tricky.

Facebook as pleasurable as food and sex? Oh, brother. I think somebody at Harvard needs a vacation.