The Problem With Social Networking

Does Facebook share too much information? Or are users to blame?

Recently, Facebook implemented changes to the social networking site, sparking outrage from many users. Of course, the anger passed as users realized the changes weren’t all that different and life in the Facebook world resumed with its usual random status updates and likes. However, I expect Facebook fanatics will experience another surge of hostility as Facebook launches other changes in the upcoming weeks.

While I was mildly perturbed by the new design of Facebook, I realized that it’s a free service and really, I couldn’t care less. I read many stories on websites such as CNN, NPR and USAToday about the current changes and the impending modifications. Many news agencies were reporting that Facebook now has the ability to monitor your use (as if they didn’t already) and that Facebook, along with creator Mark Zuckerberg are making our lives more public.

Here is where I have a problem. I want to choose whom I share information with. The changes allowed Facebook to say, “Hey Christal, I know you just want your friends to see your status, but really, I don’t give a shit. I’m sharing it with your friend’s friend who you don’t know.” Now, I’m not ignorant to the fact that settings can be changed to avoid some of this, but the changes happened overnight and everything I’d posted was now available for strangers to see.

This inconvenience is minor in comparison to other Facebook sharing capabilities. For example, if I login to a site such as Yahoo! News using my Facebook account, which was first touted as a convenient tool, people know what types of stories I view instantly. This leads us into a new realm of over sharing.

If you haven’t been able to tell by now, I am not shy about sharing things about myself. However, when a person listens to a song on Spotify it automatically tells their Facebook friends what they’re listening to. This type of link could result in my closet Britney Spears addiction being unleashed upon the world. I mean really, no one needs to know about my affinity for Boy George. Not mention my obsession with Michael Jackson’s music. Since this discovery, I decided to forego using Spotify and stick to a more private listening experience.

Facebook isn’t the only one going about sharing information the wrong way. It’s the more than 800 million subscribers as well.  People tend to believe that social networking and online forums are a means to say whatever they want. While everyone is entitled to free speech, many people forget they are talking to other actual living, breathing human beings. All of a sudden, social etiquette is forgotten. Rapidly, religion and politics begin making their way around and people start get angry, arguments quickly ignite. My true feeling is that if you wouldn’t say it or show it to another person in “real life,” then don’t do so in the world of social networks.

All this aside, Facebook has done an amazing job with connecting people. I have been able to reconnect with friends I haven’t seen in years and continue that friendship again. I enjoy my time on the site and try to keep my thoughts under control. It’s hard when you have no filter.

Tell me what you think in comments. I’m dying for you to overshare!

Now, won’t you like me on Facebook? No? Okay, then follow me on Twitter.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Chelsea Sauer October 05, 2011 at 09:05 PM
Quite a generation gap in this argument. My parents are sixty and dead set against facebook, that it is perpetuating our culture of narcissism, though they both have FB accounts (rarely used, but still). I like to see wedding photos and baby pics etc. but I worry about those who would use it as a vehicle of control. Of course it helps to perpetuate the "culture of narcissism", however it is the constant overuse and terrorizing of advertising that is really the perpetuation of that. It is easily controlled and manipulated, as the author pointed out. As we get more and more reliant on purchasing online and communicating online, we are sucking into a vessel that can be easily manipulated and controlled much more than was ever possible before. Not to mention any information found online comes with the price of excessive advertising, so facebook exploits our psyches, just like TV, just like this website. I am a luddite, though I do like to keep up with the times, the dichotomy is frustrating. That said, there should be more regulation on what personal information can be bought and sold to other corporations.
Alan Stuart October 17, 2011 at 09:03 PM
Arab Spring could not have happened the way it happened if it where not for social network. The people used it as a tool for revolution here however we use it to share stupid videos and make fun of Rebecca Black. Not only is there a generation gap between who uses things like Facebook, there is a cultural gap about how it is used.
Doug Curlee October 17, 2011 at 10:19 PM
and yet.. i don't see a single one of you saying, "i'm not gonna use it anymore".. just sayin'.. doug
Bryceson Cabading October 18, 2011 at 12:40 AM
Probably because most people feel that social networking is worth the compromise. People like to stay in touch with friends. It makes going away to college a whole lot easier, and it also lets you reconnect with people from your past.
Christal Ferris October 18, 2011 at 07:30 PM
Yes, social networking is a great tool. Like any other method of communication, it can be abused or misused. I do like using Facebook, Twitter, and other sites. I like to follow news there as well as keep in touch with friends and family. I will probably never stop using social networking and media even as it evolves.


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