After the umpteenth change to Facebook, people must make a decision to modify their profile format to the new Timeline very soon – some say today. Or, be kicked off. Some people have already made the conversion as they were in a special ‘focus-type’ group or just proactive. Others, like me, are reluctant.
Putting my info into a timeline seems to make it easier to find photos, links, or comments from the past. If I casually mentioned it was my ___ anniversary, I imagine it would be placed on the line of my life (especially if I had put down my birthday year). So, is this too much information – especially for those that are truly not my close friends? Has my life become quickly reduced to a timeline?
Here lies the question. What do I do about this info and who should be available to see it? Just who are my Friends?
I joined Facebook for two reasons – my husband and college-age daughter were on it. And, after seeing how horrible ‘Friends’ could be – altercations on MySpace with my teen daughter years ago – I felt it was important to see what was up.
I read somewhere that nearly 20% marriages ended in divorce – which seems rather high – because of Facebook. I suppose many an affair could be caught from intimate posts or if the ‘Relationship’ status says something different than ‘Married’! Or, if there’s long-lost old boy-/girlfriends trying to rekindle attachments. I know of many people that add fake siblings, disguise their status and generally leave out a lot of relationship info. Doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose of Facebook?
Maybe Facebook isn’t such a good thing. All this came to my mind – in addition, to the decision whom to let on my Friends list.
Some folks just like to have hundreds or even thousands of Friends. It’s an ego thing if you go over 500 on Facebook. You’re either the most popular person in the world or someone who likes to collect names. (One girl my daughter grew up with has over 2000.) What do you do about your family and in-laws? Do you want to add them knowing that they would be privy to your private business and vice versa? I suppose Facebook is some form of communication for some. I have one aunt who refuses to communicate with the family except for an occasional comment on Facebook.
So, how I wanted to play this Friend issue was important. Do I just let in anyone (and as they say, on the Internet you could be a dog – and some literally were), or just put my real, close friends? I did a bit of both. I had most of my college and some of my childhood friends join my ‘elite’ list. I also let some dog breeders I knew. To be truthful, I’ve had some interesting conversations. Then again, I might suddenly be IM-ed by one I really didn’t know well or didn’t want to talk to. For example, suddenly I heard from some guy I apparently went to high school with and forgot. He was soon dropped after he started to relate his sad life story how the wife didn’t understand him and he remembered me so fondly.
I have also ‘dropped’ a few because I was totally disinterested in their endless attention – boarding on harassment – constant self-congratulatory posts, wild views on life/politics , or feeling obligated to let them become my Friend since I became theirs.
It has been fun to connect with some I hadn’t seen in many years. But, I could have lived not contacting them at all. Often, if I hear from someone in my past, we might write each other for a bit to catch up, and then poof, it’s over. (As my best friend – who isn’t on Facebook says – “If they’re your current friend, you wouldn’t need Facebook, you’d be communicating with them already.” True that!) Baby Boomers seem to find Facebook an interesting way to get back in touch, but clearly after the novelty wears off, who really cares what happened to these long-lost people?
What about privacy? This is probably Facebook’s biggest problem. When I heard that info or photos could be picked up, copied, or shared by other websites or people, I became alarmed. One click and you’re done. Facebook doesn’t have solid rules where this info is open to any and all. Sure, they say you can monitor your privacy levels, but… I remained apprehensive. I started to change my profile photos into baby shots or ones of my dogs. (You often hear that employers stalk the sites to see what everyone is up to as well. So those drunken party shots might be detrimental to your career, as well as your personal life! I was happy to see that Facebook condones future employers insisting that they get personal passwords to look up your life. Err no. Isn’t there an Amendment about that?) Gone were my family photos – I didn’t want to be tagged or comments made on any of them.
I was appalled when I heard that my personal information could be shared through various Facebook applications – games, horoscopes, contests, etc. I have quickly abandoned playing the games and always check off not to post other information on my Wall. I’m not sure where all the private info goes, but if they ask, it can’t be good!
By the same token, companies find that Facebook could be a useful marketing tool. Now, nearly every major brand has a Facebook presence. Always on the search for manufacturers’ coupons, if I ‘Liked’ a particular brand or company, I might get some discounts. That seemed like a win for me, but suddenly my name was out for all to see. I often press ‘Like,’ get my coupon, and quickly take it off my wall.
Facebook is definitely an easy way to post and share photos. One can press the ‘Like’ button to acknowledge them instead of actually commenting and you’re done. That seems somewhat of a cop-out. In addition, with this new format all your Likes and/or comments can appear or the right side of Facebook as a Live Feed or Stream to your Friends.
I rarely post or comment unless I see a great movie or play. I refuse to tell people about my health, political views, or very personal thoughts. A few months ago, I was berated by someone for copying a paragraph how much I loved my husband in my Status box. The woman felt that since she lost her husband, I was being unkind to say how great mine was. I was quite puzzled by this and have since refrained from adding these sentiments. I either send thoughts through email personally, or they remain in my head. It is truly no one’s business if I had a great day shopping or got a cold.
On the other hand, Facebook isn’t all bad. I’ve had some lovely conversations, particularly with dog breeders. It’s fun to share photos of the crazy dogs and relate their antics. Facebook enabled me to connect two people that would normally not know each other. One was a childhood friend who authored a book about a famous talk show host. The subject happened to be the uncle of a college friend. Facebook and I brought these two together.
I still don’t know what to do about this Timeline thing. I suppose because I didn’t put my birth year, I’m safe not revealing my age and important events in my life. If the conversion requires a great deal of time, effort, and tech savvy, however, it might be too much for me to do. And, it might be time to weed out my Friends again. There’s no need for my entire Facebook world to know all my personal business!