PORT MORESBY - So we have smartphones, data and plenty of time. What do we do?
Facebook offers the opportunity to interact with other people and in Papua New Guinea many spend time socialising - often unnecessarily.
They share photos of their meals, alcohol and buai, vehicles, babies, picnics, weddings and funerals.
Some share photos of PNG rural conditions or giving hints of crime.
Some use Facebook to vent their frustrations. The worst venting on Facebook is from women getting back at their boyfriends or husbands’ female friends.
For the last 10 years Papua New Guineans have become active in criticising government and cheerleading their favourite politician.
The gold award is for sports commentary.
The amazing thing about Facebook for a country with a crippled education system is the opportunity to learn, do business, create meaningful networks and more.
For small business start-ups, financial institutions and service providers offer online help and announcements for training and information events.
For people seeking healthy lifestyles there is a wide variety of information about food, basic self-care home remedies, fitness and mind training.
For people going through difficult moments emotionally there are a lot of groups online offering free counselling services and tools.
It is heartwarming to listen to a woman share her story about how she learned the basics of Excel and knitting on Facebook and how a Bible group helps her emotionally.
Many of us get hung up on ‘breaking the news’ and we end up creating waves of rumour, allegation and lots of singing the wrong alleluia.
In the end all we do is manufacture negativity instead of promoting positive life changing ideas.
We forget the stigma we have helped create and ignore that we have stirred up something unnecessarily.
There is also an issue with confidentiality. How do we as a nation control the murk we spread on Facebook? How do we protect the vulnerable? What content do we allow in the public domain?
Political forums and provincial groups on Facebook provide avenues for citizens’ participation in the development of PNG. Democracies allow for free speech and expression.
Facebook has helped individuals speak themselves from their homes without having to go through an intermediary.
Two issues that have become common on Facebook – issues that affect ordinary people - are police brutality and the poor health system.
That said, many people spend time pulling down good work. The keypad on the phone is used, often unconsciously, to dismantle good initiatives.
Three interesting ideas on Facebook at the moment are the tailoring groups, the catering groups and the small farmer groups.
They offer opportunities to learn, make things and make life happy.
We can all use Facebook wisely and responsibly and help create a better Papua New Guinea.