Newspapers today have been running a story that tried to link Facebook to an increase in the prevalence of syphilis. How? By taking a report by a UK hospital and then extrapolating from it that an increase in the sexually transmitted disease was related to an increase in the use of social networking sites to arrange casual sex.
The report as you might have guessed said no such thing, simply mentioning that some people do use social networking sites to arrange hook-ups. Indeed I think I’ve posted about the same subject a number of times in the past, the hooking up online, not the getting syphilis.
In the same way that guns don’t kill people, people kill people it is not social networking online that promotes unsafe sex, it is people’s attitudes. There seems to be a lack of recognition that we are all potentially vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases if we practice unprotected sex with a partner whose sexual history is unknown to us. Or is it an unwillingness to accept that we are all mortal?
The pursuit of a hedonistic lifestyle is in itself an attractive concept to many but an increasing number seem to be able to ignore the fact that its consequences can be severe. I write stories about encounters with strangers, or multiple partners however they are fantasy and are always presented as such. When you cannot differentiate between real life and sexual fantasy things are bound to go wrong.
The sample size in the report was so small as to be statistically irrelevant and the authors were simply pointing out that unprotected sex can lead to, amongst other things, STIs. As is the way with some journalists they tried to cook up a story and demonise Facebook. However in doing so they inadvertently highlighted the problem of casual sex amongst a population who seem to have forgotten that unprotected sex with multiple partners of unknown sexual history is a very bad idea.