Monday, August 18, 2008

Social networking or social drama?

After a few weeks of Stalinesque purging of online (and offline) links to folks who quite frankly, I no longer feel it is in my best interest to associate with or be associated with.

It really all started a few months ago when I expanded my Facebook presence from family, to a few select colleagues, to ex college friends, drinking assoicates, others. The latter two exposed a problem. I didn't realise that the settings for my photo albums online were so glaringly open that despite the assumption that only friends linked to me online could see them, so could anybody with a computer and an internet connection.

I trailed off on the second holiday this year, with my Kodak Z612IS, and despite the disinterest of those who I went with in some of the events that were happening, I was there with my camera to snap them. I was a little put out that I was left to enjoy some of the best free entertainment of that festival on my own, but boy did I get some fab shots! Anyway I picked out the 50 best and slapped them into Facebook, assuming only friends linked to me could see them.

Boy was I wrong.

A few weeks later I got a call from a friend in Dublin who just happened to have been in a cybercafe in a community centre. One of the ladies who I was away with (and who was sitting by the pool in the resort while I was out taking several hundred of the best photos) had been in the cafe and was showing her "holiday" photos from Bebo. Strange, I said, she only has 2 photos on Bebo.

And then I realised.

I checked her Bebo page which is public - sure enough only 2 photos. Then I looked at her Facebook - no new photos there.

I realised, to my horror, this woman, who hadn't even shared many of the experiences which I had on this week, was displaying my holiday photos to total strangers! (And presumably as her own!)

I had one of those horrible "single white female" moments, one of those horrible moments where you realise that your life and boundaries have just been completely invaded. I thought to myself: who has seen these? What if somebody in them hears they were seen and becomes offended? Who is responsible then?

You do start to realise as you build contact lists within these how little judgement some folks have. Every day 2 particular acquaintances deluged me with application requests and notifications which really I wouldn't want my colleagues reading, far less my clients. Aside from the pointless and meaningless application requests, the notifications, the wall posts, the "cocktails", "hugs" and other shite, not to mention the really silly groups (one colleague invited me to a group in Mexico which was all in Spanish - I have to admit I joined with no idea whatsoever what it was). In the end I said: enough.

Then the purging. I'm getting choosier about who I associate with, who I talk to, especially who I confide in. Four times in my life I've made the horrible mistake of confiding feelings to somebody who then just turned around and rode roughshod through them like a Stormtrooper on a tank in the Blitz. The coercion and manipulation in 2 of those cases were particularly unpleasant. It gets ugly when somebody starts bitching about somebody you're really friendly with and you realise that this is only the preliminary to a blaze of manipulation based on whatever they heard about you from some so-called friend who has totally written you off as a raging alcoholic or crazed drugg addict (of which I am neither) for whatever kinky reasons, I don't know. In any case, it gets to a point on the scene where you really have to eliminate the drinking cronies who masquerade as friends, because they behave like a batch of hormonal 15 years olds.


Either way, I am glad I've taken the decisions I have and I feel my life will be better quality having done this.

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