Saturday, September 12, 2009

In Your Facebook!

Whenever I tell anyone about my blog, one of the first questions that I'm invariably asked is whether I'm on Facebook. I'm not on Facebook. Some find that odd and can't understand why not. They assume that anyone who blogs must surely also be on Facebook, as though blogging and social networking were pretty much synonymous. They're really not.

Facebook, MSN, Myspace and other such social networks are, by their nature, community-oriented services where large groups of people mingle and converse. Blogging is different. I just sit here, alone in my attic, thinking out loud at the world. Anyone who cares to listen is welcome and I invite comments and other feedback but, in a sense, blogging is a pretty introverted activity.

I'm an introvert at heart. I'm uncomfortable in a crowd. I don't particularly enjoy meeting new people, prefering instead to stick with a small group of familiar friends. Even then, I'm really not intereted in whether they happen to be feeling happy, sleepy, grumpy, bashful, dopey, sneezy or Doc at any given moment.  It's not that I don't care, it's just that every human being goes through shifting moods.  Most of us just deal with it quietly.  If there's an ongoing issue and you think I can be of help, or even just need a sympathetic ear, by all means, talk to me, but do it in person, not through some electronic social club.

Even some people who previously enjoyed Facebook have gotten disillusioned with the service because they find that they can't turn it off, according to a Waterloo Region Record article from some time ago.  These people found that, having created a Facebook account and joined a few groups, they couldn't stop incoming messages inviting them to play games, take quizzes or broadcasting the transient moods of any number of "friends" whom they barely knew.  It's like Jim Varney's annoying Ernest P. Worrell character who keeps popping up everywhere in those old 'eighties TV commercials, "KnowhutImeanVern?" 

Then there are those annoying virtual "pokes".  In the real world, anyone who continually pokes us soon finds themselves on the receiving end of an exasperated "Stop that, willya???"  What Facebook really needs is a virtual cuff across the back of the head to send back in response.

Then, of course, there's Facebook's famous "wall". All through the seventies, while I was growing up, Roger Waters and friends kept telling me that The Wall is a bad thing! In fact, today, they might have this to say:

We don't need no social networks
We don't need no fanboy zones
No online rants by neo Nazis
Facebook leave them kids alone
Hey! Facebook! Leave them kids alone!
All in all it's just more mindless crap on the Wall
Of course, there are the ever-present privacy concerns.  Facebook itself has acknowledged privacy holes in the past.  Of course, they claim to have patched these up and assure all that the network is now completely secure, but that's sort of like fixing the dyke after the city's been flooded, isn't it?  Then there's the lingering doubt about how secure one's personal info really is.  That having been said, privacy concerns aren't really what keeps me away from Facebook. For one thing, I figure anybody who broadcasts their friends, family, personal photographs, interests and even momentary moods online really shouldn't have too much expectation of privacy.  Besides that, I'm cynical enough to believe that the concept of privacy is a myth in our electronic data-oriented society. A half hour and perhaps a few dollars spent on on-line searches will give you most peoples' mailing addresses, phone numbers and even credit histories, criminal records (if any) and family members.  Google my name and you'll come up with several links and references, but Facebook won't be one of them.

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