Monday, September 19, 2011

On social media....

I’m a big social media guy.  I Facebook, I tweet, I blog, I belong to a couple of message boards, in short I enjoy it as much, and maybe more, than the next Joe.  Social media is a great way to stay connected with family and friends that may live hundreds, or even thousands of miles away and it helps me stay current on topics that interest me.  I particularly enjoy sharing my pictures with family and friends via Facebook.
Too much of anything, though, is not good and there is a disturbing side to social media.  I suppose, to be fair, that it isn’t the social site itself who is at fault and that instead the blame rests almost entirely on the user.  On the other hand it seems that every time I login to Facebook the operators are trying to shove new features down my gullet.  Though some of them are just annoying, some of them scare me.  Here are some examples, with no offense intended to anyone that uses these, this just reflect my preferences:
Status Shuffle – To me this application, or whatever you call it (widget?) is either for people who are totally oblivious to what’s happening around them or aren’t creative enough to express an independent thought.  Either that or I entirely missed getting off of the train a couple of stops back.  Now in the interest of full disclosure, the possibility that I am a couple of stops short of home is entirely within the realm of possibility.  Having said all of that, I don’t need Facebook to tell me how I feel, I have a wife for that.
Farmville – I’m going on perception here because I have never actually seen the game, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.  Well okay, I’ve never stayed at a Holiday Inn Express, but my brain operates in such a manner that you would swear that I did.  Anyway, this appears to be an application, widget, or whatever you call it, where you do some farming and get extremely frustrated and angry because you aren’t very good at it.  All I know is that I get messages from others that say “Sally needs barbed wire, can you help her?”, or “Sally’s farm was destroyed by a plague of locusts and Sally needs pesticides” or “Sally is being bullied into selling the farm to a shopping mall developer, can you loan her a shotgun”.  If there’s anything I am good at it’s being bad at a number of things, I don’t need any practice. 
CityVille – Apparently this is an alternative to Farmville for those who suffer from hay fever and other seasonal allergies or don't enjoy quiet and green stuff.  Again, you get to build your imaginary world because the realities of your real life are so depressing that you feel you absolutely must take advantage of any opportunity to escape from it.  With this app you can build your own city and, just like city planners have been doing for centuries, fail miserably at it.  My city planning would probably look something like this:

Check In - I don’t know if this is considered an app, a widget or a feature, but what I consider it is a very, very bad idea.  Now in addition to the more traditional tools like duct tape, ski masks and rope, the bad guys have another useful tool at their disposal.  Young women are actually telegraphing their location for the whole world to see.  But oh, the time you have saved your stalker, now they can be much more productive and efficient.
Now on the surface some of my readers may think that this is fairly innocuous.  After all, these are friends and family that they’re providing this information to, right?  Wrong!  Young people have notoriously poor judgment and will friend almost anyone.  One day a co-worker’s eighteen year old sister was visiting the office and we discussed Facebook and my concerns.  For some reason a mutual “Facebook friend” of the two sisters came up in the conversation and they realized that neither even knew who this person was.  Adults friending young women that they're not related to is just creepy, but friending people they don't even know raises the level of creepiness exponentially.  My kids have friends who I have know since kindergarten and I wouldn't even think of friending them.
And never mind the fact that if you post your location and I remark on it my friends can now see where you are.  Trust me, you don’t want my friends to know where you are, my friends are illegal in 42 states and the District of Columbia.  Go to a young person’s page and see how many friends they have.  Is it 300?  500?  They will “friend” gas stations, convenience stores and the person who sat in the bathroom stall next to them if they thought that they would accept.  Honestly I can’t think of 300 people who I have even a passing acquaintance with, much less 300 that I actually like.
Is this Check-In feature not location specific enough for you?  Well now there's something called Foursquare, an application that allows people to tell others where they are BASED ON GPS coordinates.  Again, a very, very bad idea.  With technologies like this we don't have to worry about being tracked without our knowledge, we're already doing it to ourselves.
What's really most annoying about Facebook, though, isn't even a feature.  It's the person who feels like they need to post absolutely everything.  You know who you are, so please stop, I will not re-post what you posted, it doesn't prove anything except that I buckle under pressure.  Plus I'm just not that into causes.

Oh and one more thing, if you don't want me to point out that you had a function that I wasn't invited to don't post it on Facebook :-).

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