To Facebook or Not to Facebook

My best friend in Canada bugged me for years about joining facebook. Apparently it caught on in Canada before it got big here. I never really got the point since not that many people I knew were on it. Then one day I was urged to revisit it by another friend. Low and behold there were several people I knew on it. When did they show up? Out of curiosity to view other people’s profiles I set one up, friended one person and, seriously, within the hour, three other friends popped up. How did they find out so quickly? So much for lying low…

It has been a couple of years now and I still have mixed feelings about facebook.

First, the good. I am an introvert with loner tendencies. Facebook helps me stay plugged in with others in a way that e-mail never did. Especially ones who aren’t near. The sharing of photos, the knowledge that someone I care about is doing well, or not so well, prompts me to take action. They, in turn can see what I’m up to, watch my kid grow up (at least in photos) and can encourage or support me with just a simple “like” comment. It’s nice to know someone is hearing you.

Here’s the bad. Safety can be compromised. If you don’t learn all you can about how to use the privacy system, your identity can be at risk. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take rather than abandon the whole thing:

  • Never put the year of your birth on there, say the cops.
  • Don’t list your current city.
  • If you don’t want strangers viewing pictures of your kids (perverts are out there), make sure you choose the “friends only” option on all your photos.
  • Try not to list your kids’ names. This one is tough because you get tagged in photos where you can‘t control if the name is listed. Also, people who write on your wall tend to use the child’s name when talking about him/her. I don’t want to walk on eggshells about this so I let that one go but don’t list his name on my profile.

Beyond safety issues, there are facebook etiquette issues. You may agree to friend someone and discover too late that she is a serial poster. Do you pretend to care what this person eats for breakfast every day or risk the friendship altogether by clicking “ignore” or unfriending? Perhaps there are some relationships you wish to keep separate from your fb ones. Like relatives. Or old friend’s mothers. The crazy aunt that no one talks to because, well, she’s a little loca. How to get around this one without hurting someone’s feelings? I’ve heard there is a way to separate family and friends or co-workers but I haven’t quite figured that one out yet. I’ve also been on the receiving end when requesting so called friends who confirmed me and then never said a word to me. They gave me the privilege to look into their world but never gave a damn about mine. I, too, have been guilty of this. In this instance, better to just say no and get it over with. What about ex co-workers you barely knew? If they keep the comments coming, should you then take an interest in them? It’s a strange world. Speaking of which, did anyone see the South Park episode where facebook was featured? It’s hilarious. Facebook is definately not a good thing for our youth as far as socialization skills go.


I’ve decided to stick around for a while and we’ll see what happens. I won’t be posting my every move but I can keep track of my, let’s see, 72 friends! Clearly, I am not aiming for numbers. Baby steps. Oh and another plus is the birthday wishes you get because your date pops up on others’ screens to remind them.

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