Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Case for Social Networking

It's easy to bash Facebook, even though many of us use it. It doesn't seem as if a week or month passes when Facebook isn't accused of violating their own stated privacy statement by allowing personal information to be data-mined. Advertisers love it because clicking a "Like" gives them access to a huge database of names and email addresses. As much as you click out of the ads on the right side of the window, more pop up. It gets overwhelming.

And there is the following, posted by my mother about the middle of the month.

This seems to be a common theme, the lack of respect in the online world. I see it every time I play World of Warcraft. Guild members decry the lack of decorum in the "Trade Channel", the channel where you can offer your ability to make potions or request the services of someone who knows blacksmithing, as examples. Trade Chat is routinely offered up as the epitome of the "Penny Arcade Theory" where one person + the anonymity of the Internet = a total jerk. I'm rephrasing this to delete the expletives.

I have, on occasion, hidden comments on Facebook from certain people because I've felt the post was designed to be offensive, period, not to express a view for discussion. Some people have decided the need to self-edit isn't necessary on these pages. Facebook can be prompted to remove patently offensive material and we have tools that allow us to opt out.

Still, it's easy to point to this as an example of the breakdown of society in general. Folks, I remember when the 1960's were held up as an example of society descending into decay. I'm also willing to bet the Great Depression, Jazz Music, the Civil War, heck, our own revolution were, at their time, used as symbols of the society of that day falling into ruin.

Is there are point to my musing? Yesterday was my birthday. I received 2 cards yesterday in the mail, just 2. On Facebook, I received 21 wishes and one more today. One of the cards received was from my mother and she also posted to Facebook, so I'll remove her from the tally. That's 20 singular wishes I probably wouldn't have received had my birth date not been posted on my profile. That post resulted in a phone call from my youngest brother, Dan. "Hey! I seen [sic] on Facebook that today is your birthday. I didn't know. So, I'm just calling to say, 'Happy Birthday!'" I would faint dead away if Dan ever remembered to send a card, but he can send wishes on Facebook.

I am probably more in touch with him, with my nieces and my daughter, than I would be if we had to rely on phone calls and letters. I still write letters on occasion, not as much as I used to, and I still send cards, again, not as much as I used to. I have, however, jumped into the digital age and rely on the Internet to deliver wishes and comments and communications. "You can't hold a good wish in your hand," is a rationale for sending cards and letters and I do understand that. I treasure cards and letters received. But I also understand that in this age, digital is "where it's at", to grab a catch phrase from the 1960's and drag it forward.

So, I'm ever so grateful for the 22 people who chose to wish me happy birthday digitally. It's still a conscious choice, to sit down and type, "Happy Birthday, Deb." You might or might not have known if it wasn't for Facebook.

Beverage: China Black tea


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