Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Monolith

There's a lot of, well, buzz about Google Buzz. Admittedly, I have not looked into it. Like I need any more social media sites to worry about - the ones I have now cause me enough consternation and grief as it is. All reports seem to indicate that it's less locked down than either Twitter or Facebook so I can't imagine it doing much except for people who really don't care one whit about their online privacy. It is, however, Google so there's no telling.

I've talked a lot on these pages about Facebook and how I both love and hate it. In spite of the fact that I get to decide who I let in, it still seems like the large number of people from different parts of my life all agglomerated in one spot is a bit daunting at times. Facebook helped address that problem with new privacy settings granting me He-Man like power in allowing certain friends to see or not see certain things. It makes it sound like I'm living this seedy double life and no matter how much I wish that to be true some days, nothing could be further from the truth. I just feel like that not everyone needs to know everything about me, or even the small amount that I post online. There's also a false sense of security in that control - no matter who you block, you're still posting it on the internet. There's no stopping someone from retweeting or sharing something that you did or posted with a mutual friend and then there it goes. As Olivia so eloquently put it, "once the rumor spreads, the truth is just a thing of the past."

While this is not a new thing for me to think about, I have been having an increasingly difficult time reconciling this feeling. It wasn't until a couple weeks ago that someone put it in terms that really resonated for me. I'm paraphrasing, which she was as well, but it goes something like this:

"The definition of good mental health is knowing the appropriate response based on the person and the situation."

She (and I) would argue that social media, especially Facebook, takes away that ability to make those decisions. Instead, you're forced into one monolithic response to everyone around you. Personally, I know that most of my inner circle (family, close friends) get me enough that pretty much anything I say will be at least partially understood - but what about the people I graduated from high school with? Co-workers? Long lost old acquaintances? Not so much and not quite as "safe." As usual for me, it's about boundaries and in the world of social media, boundaries are increasingly nebulous.

The same person who was talking to me about this also thinks that whenever successful communication between people occurs, it should be classified as a minor miracle. With all the things that can go wrong or be misinterpreted when people are trying to communicate, I would have to agree with her. It's a reminder to us all to be a bit more forgiving of the people around us. But it's also a mild warning that I think can apply well to social media.

No one is a monolith, and no one should be forced to be one.

Now excuse me while I go post a Barbara Mandrell video to Facebook.

1 comment:

John said...

I wanted to give in to Buzz, and did momentarily, but I have read too many bad things about the privacy issues, and I have deactivated it now.