18 March 2009

Can Facebook Be Your Friend?

This month's issue of Real Simple includes an essay on Facebook, "Can Facebook Be Your Friend?" The essay, directed to non-FB users, looks at how information is disseminated through the social media, even for people who don't have accounts. You just have to know someone who does and who shares information about you, from old photographs to whether your kid just learned to use the potty. FB is, apparently, inescapable.

I try to limit my FB time, but it's compelling to check other people's pages, read their status updates, and peek at photos posted of them, or friends of theirs, or friends of friends. The scary thing is that no one can control what information is being broadcast about them. The essay points out that people invariably move forward, wanting to leave their former selves behind. But as soon as someone posts and old picture, comments on the past, or sometimes even just shows up, all that moving forward can be for naught.

I'd like to think that my own FB experience has been pretty tame. I haven't had anything dramatic happen or gotten upset that someone posted pictures of me from college. I haven't had an old friend or boyfriend pop up, just for me to revisit angry or insecure feelings. Everything has been pretty steady. I update my status daily but not compulsively, I post pictures occasionally (though all my Flickr photos are filtered onto my wall), and my blog posts are reposted there, but I don't consider myself addicted. I think of FB as a way to connect to the handful of people who I don't get to see on a regular basis but wish I did. And, of the some 200 "friends" I have, most are peripheral.

Of course, as a soon-to-be-mama, I wonder what impact FB might have for my child and our little family. But I also wonder about this as it relates to my blogs (which I imagined my baby blog continuing to be an update for friends and family throughout the country) and Flickr account, the places I update the most. How much exposure of my child do I want others to be able to easily access? How much information do I give? Should I be totally candid or guarded?

In beginning my blogging experience, I was naively open about all sorts of things. Then I realized that it's not a diary with a lock and key, and people might actually read it. If they read it, then they'll know what I think or what I'm planning or what I've done. I have to be a guardian of my own privacy.

I love blogs that deeply personal, that give glimpses into people's daily lives. I just wonder how much is too much, or if there really is such a thing as too much anymore. Perhaps this is just the way things are headed, that we will not have any true privacy even if we choose not to participate in the interwebs. Perhaps it's better to jump in with both feet than try to resist. I still think there must be a balance in all of it and, even though the personal blog has been touted to be dead, I prefer turning to it than FB. (Really, I'd prefer to sit down and have a cup of coffee with everyone I care about, but this is geographically impossible right now.)

We all have a responsibility to use socia media responsibly, and that means considering the impact and potential detriment of what is posted about others and ourselves. Unfortunately, some are having to learn the hard way, but hopefully most of us, particularly those past college age, are guarding our privacy adequately.


Bethany said...

well stated, lindsay.

jenni said...

Please don't cancel your facebook account. Or your blogs. Please? :)

Yes, very well said. There is a balance.

Lindsay said...

Thanks, ladies.

Jenni, don't worry. I'm not going anywhere. :)

B Welch said...

I've been thinking seriously about ending my FB account, or at least putting it to bed for awhile. Great thoughts to consider here Lindsay.