Wednesday, April 11, 2018

What a friend we have in Facebook ....

I'm not sure how long Facebook has been my "friend," but do know that the distant cousins who introduced me to it years ago no longer are friends in the social media sense although we're still capable of civil conversation otherwise. We parted company via Facebook years ago as a result of political incompatibility.

So it was interesting to read via The New York Times this morning about yesterday's appearance on Capitol Hill by Mark Zuckerberg, founder, chair and CEO, now facing bipartisan angst.

One inquisitor asked Mr. Zuckerberg if he'd be comfortable with the world knowing which hotel he was a guest at Monday night. The answer was "no." The logical followup might have been --- "I wouldn't be damnfool enough to share that information on Facebook."

Here's the deal --- Facebook for most of us is a free service and when you get involved with it you've got to live with the fact that much of what you post, depending upon your settings, is going to be available to anyone, anywhere. And, most likely, anyone truly interested in your innermost secrets can figure out a way to find out what they are --- if you're damnfool enough to share them.


Years ago, a part-time co-worker got religion and as part of his healing process decided to share with the entire office his addiction to pornography. This was not information the rest of us had any interest in having. I'm certain that if Facebook had existed at the time, he would have shared it there, too. This guy may have felt better after getting that secret off his chest --- but it complicated working relationships for a time thereafter. It's embarrassing to have to take refuge in the restroom when overcome by a fit of the giggles.

Which leads to a basic social media rule --- don't.

Jesus may be your friend, but Facebook isn't.


There are other useful rules --- if you drink excessively or engage with controlled substances, don't post while under the influence; don't share two dozen mindless memes a day (you're not winning hearts and minds, merely boring your friends); if you can't control your temper, back away from the keyboard; pity parties can be overdone; stop with the excessive cussing --- you're just demonstrating publicly your inability to use the language creatively.

On the other hand, Facebook is an excellent place to learn how to practice restraint. 

But the fact those wiley Russians influenced the last presidential election by sharing disinformation should surprise no one. The appalling thing is, so many were unable or unwilling to do the homework needed to recognize disinformation in the first place.

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