Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Black Hole of Facebook

I've started facebooking. First things first: I had no idea what a powerful tool facebook is. I've connected with old friends from highschool. I've found out what current friends are doing and what they're planning on doing. I'm even using it to get to know my cousins in the Philippines! I'm thinking of pulling out my Tagalog text books from college and practice with my cousins so that I can surprise my mom. There is no way, going in, that I could have predicted that as a possibility.

But now that I've started using it, I've sorta gone crazy. I facebooked my father/son camping trip. I took pictures with my phone and uploaded them as events happened. My wife logged in and was able to see what we were doing. In less than a week, I've got 60+ friends, some of whom are relatives that I had no idea even existed. I have a facebook app for my phone, and I check it frequently. Facebook can easily turn into a black hole. Get too close, and it will relentlessly suck in all available time. It's already distracted me enough to keep me from blogging for an entire week!

And then I was struck by the need to be careful. I'm putting pictures, names and lots of information about myself and my family on facebook. Who can see this stuff? It turns out, by default, lots of people. So I've decided to restrict my friendship circles. I've limited my friends to only be those who I actually know and trust. Additionally, I've made just about everything about me and my family available *ONLY* to people who I accept as friends. I've had to say "no" to some people that I know because I simply don't know them well enough. I'm trying to decide if I need to take some people out of my friendship circle that I'd already put in.

And I'm suddenly feeling snooty. Like I'm saying, "Sorry, you're not good enough to be my friend. Go back to your caste."

I'm not sure what to do with this. I like facebook. I want to continue to use it to keep track of people who I've lost track of. I want to be able to tell them about what's going on in the life of my family. But I don't want to give anyone ammunition to exploit my family, which means I need to be careful who I call my friend. What to do? What to do?

Update: I discovered that FB has some really well thought out privacy capabilities. Here's a link that describes how you can be really specific about which friends can see what. I've done this. I've created a group on FB called "outer circle". These folks are people that I know, but don't really know all that well. They don't get to see pics of my family or my address or my phone numbers. But they still get to be my friends. If I wanted, I could keep them from seeing my status updates. Very nice.


John P said...

thanks for the FB tip

Niffer said...

Hey, what timing! I just started a face book account and I'm finding myself going crazy as well. It's good to know the different levels of friends, though. I'll have to look into that.

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