Friday, 7 January 2011

Thought Picnic: It is happening on Facebook

It is happening on Facebook

There is a discussion happening on Facebook that you have to be a part of, in fact, there are many discussions that do not appear on blogs, on Twitter or in the news but it is wholesome, interesting and engaging.

I joined Facebook just over a year ago after years of taking the media reviews of it being fickle, feckless and hardly rewarding.

More so, we are told it is inherently evil, every missing person, abused person or unfortunate victim of crimes, some as heinous as rape or murder appears to have some Facebook assailant.

You manage your Facebook

The problem is really not Facebook, you can have as many friends as you want on Facebook; a good many you will know from all walks of life and others would just latch onto you, however, you can clearly choose what you want to share and with whom, primarily by making lists and managing permissions to your content by lists.

Very personal and private information should only be shared with those you know, in fact, the people you really know probably have other means of contacting you and it is best to use those channels than Facebook messaging.

If you properly compartmentalise the wealth of information you share on Facebook, distinguishing between the groups of people you meet just as you do not get too familiar with strange and unfamiliar people in real life, you should be generally safe.

You manage your Facebook, do not let it manage you, you have the right to click Cancel, click No, click Ignore, click Later, you do not have to click OK, Proceed, Accept, Allow – DO NOT feel compelled to do anything and do not let your curiosity get the better of you; you can wait until you have acquired more knowledge about a setting or situation before proceeding – a simple Google search could give you a general risk profile of the option.

Boxing your friends

The groups you can manage range from parents – these might include other relations with whom certain levels of openness have not been established; relations – these might be cousins and many others removed who you have grown to know through the relationships established through your parents.

Friends – you probably want to separate your current friends from those you have long lost contact with and these might well be different from another group or supposed friends; ex-schoolmates – ranging from those you met in primary school who would be quite different from those you met in secondary school and ultimately different from those you met in college or university.

Each set of friends probably know different things about you and you either want them to collide or you manage their access to your details.

There are levels of granularity of access to information that Facebook offers from who can see what like your birthday and age, who can send you messages, you can update your statuses, where you want to get notifications from and so on.

Acquaintances may be fans not friends

You do have to take your time to put the people in your life in the right context of relationship they have with you, you will probably be uncomfortable with people you barely know being all too familiar with you and that brings us to another group of Facebook befrienders – acquaintances – people you hardly know but have networked themselves to you through other contacts; if in doubt, ignore them, if you must do due diligence, ask one of your other closer friends about them.

You can also acquire friends through their interest in what you have been saying on Facebook and since it is difficult to make the distinction of those being fans rather than your friends, they are probably the ones you do not want to share your photo albums with and other intimate information you have shared on Facebook.

Keep true but manage it

Facebook has a tendency to draw out all your interests, likes and peeves than create relationships borne of those choices, just remember that everything you put in Facebook becomes a reference data point for analysis and suggestion – in most cases; you probably do not want to put those things online.

Obviously, you do not want to be an Internet schizophrenic, you want to maintain one true identity about yourself based on fact and truth or else you are left with the unmanageable portfolio of lies told to different people at different times with the impossibility of keeping track of who have been give what information and when.

Think about if you are being extrovert, an exhibitionist or a subject for voyeurism; think about why you are sharing what you are sharing and with whom; think about retaining a bit of mystery about yourself – think about the situation where your history is in the mouth and words of others completely out of your control, think about the need to be a bit reserved and exercising some discretion and Facebook could be great fun rather than a tragedy waiting to happen.

Get on Facebook but you do not have to join the bandwagon or be part of the crowd, make it unique and culture it well.

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