Friends on Social Networking Sites
We’ve all seen the meteoric rise of social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. and it is pretty common for people these days to have a profile up on at least one of these sites. And with all the concerns about Internet security, it is surprising that so many are so nonchalant about sharing personal information with the online community. Everything from photos and correspondence with friends to event calendars detailing our whereabouts are fodder for hundreds, even thousands. MySpace has few privacy settings and anyone with a MySpace account can access all your personal information.
Facebook has more privacy settings that keeps strangers from viewing your profile and other personal information, but only your friends can view all of it… which leads me to wonder… What is it with ever-expanding friends’ lists? It seems like there is an ongoing, unspoken contest in the online community on who has the most “friends.”
I confess I have about 70 people in my Facebook friends list, and I consider only about 6-8 of them good friends. (My best friends are not even on Facebook.) I stay in frequent touch with maybe 20 others. The other 45 people are classmates from high school with whom I’d like to keep in touch with once in a while, and co-workers from present and former jobs. Most of the time, I don’t even remember who the other 45 people are, and I try not to complicate the situation by adding everyone from my high school or workplace (or former workplaces).
My informal poll of friends suggests that this is typical of most people. If this is the scenario, what about people who have 300 people in their friends lists? I even know people who have over 600 “friends.” Did they add everyone they ever met?
So now, if you have a good 200 or 300 people in their friends’ lists, all of them can see all your photographs getting an inside look at your personal life, and not only will 300 people be aware of what you’re doing and where you’re going, but all their friends will know too. Doesn’t that seem a little creepy? These people have no right to complain about identity theft, but that would be the least of their problems if someone does decide to come after them.
Even if we ignore this worst case scenario, I wonder how many of the 200-300 “friends” are interested in viewing pictures of mundane events in your life.
For this reason, I think the old-fashioned method of phones, e-mails (and the very outdated letters) are a much more discreet and personal way to keep in touch with close friends, family, and loved ones, and yes, they are a great way to share memories and pictures with the ones who really care to see them. Putting everything out there for the world to see might seem like the cool thing to do and a great way to show off your happening lifestyle, but when reality bites, it will bite hard.
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