Thursday, October 20, 2011

Who Needs Halloween? Social Networking Sites... The New Frights

Halloween 1984

Who needs Halloween for tricks, treats & frights when we have Facebook and LinkedIn?  Worldwide, security breached, plagues of portals, for your past to come back to haunt you 365 days a year.  They suck more out of one's life than anything from Twilight or True Blood, and have more surprises at every turn than well crafted, amusement park haunted houses.  

They also, rather nonchalantly, heist email addresses from your computer with a simple question like, "Want to see if any of your contacts are also on (whatever site one is on)?"  One click and every person I have ever sold things to on Ebay, or whose email address was sent to me because only a small portion of the population seems to know what "Bcc" stands for, then pops up.  I closed my Facebook account 2 years ago, and just recently discovered LinkedIn had become just as intrusive.  

I was getting requests from people I may have exchanged one or two emails with, or parents whose kids I taught 10 years ago, and so on.  I only have my company name, phone number, etc... now, and I no longer accept invitations to connect with others.

I tried Facebook at the requests of friends, not realizing that the requests were from the portal itself, not really from my friends.  After signing up, I was bombarded daily with long lists of people that, yes I did know, but possibly didn't want to share anything other than a business connection.  I wondered, How did Facebook know I knew these people? I looked at the list and got it. Facebook pulled them from your email account, you big dumb bunny! 

With several email addresses, I knew why Facebook wanted to be in my email account and I was none too happy. However I figured that as I was finally connecting with some old friends who I rarely get to see, I would just ignore the pleas to add them as my Facebook friends. Common sense took a back seat for those few weeks.

I posted some photos, a little bit of a bio on myself, listed my favorite things... the usual nonsense.  About 2 weeks in to my Facebook foray, an old high school chum left a message on my Facebook wall.  It read, "Remember the time we went to the nude beach?"  Yes, I did remember we had stumbled on to a private beach in Laguna, back in the mid-seventies.  As we laid out our towels and got our tanning lotion on, we noticed that though we had our bikinis on, no one else at the sparsely populated beach was clothed. We had driven around for so long looking for a beach with no kids running around and screaming, we decided to stay, not to pay attention to anyone else, act natural (not au naturale) and work on our tans.  

Knowing that people Google my name to check my business out, I tried in vain for 3 days to get that remark off my wall.  What would parents or corporations looking to hire me make of it?  My past was haunting me.  Now I was a teen in the 1970s, and that one event was pretty tame, but after reading some of the delusional, misogynistic, destructive, bigoted, character assassinating comments people leave on websites, I didn't want anything more left on my wall to haunt me.  Real or imagined.  Again, I was a teen in the 1970s.  A crazy age in a crazy era, when .... well, let's just say I would rather forget a lot of the 1970s.  In fact, if I could, there are many parts of the 1980s I would like to claim amnesia on as well.  Even better, now I would like to forget Facebook.

There is a bigger, scarier bogeyman out there, besides social networking sites, in our world wide web.  Our younger generations are losing out on learning vital interpersonal skills.  Being more globally connected, sadly has affected social skills needed to navigate one's way through life. Awareness of posture, eye contact and observing non-verbal cues from others, is a skill that is being lost to our younger generations.  Family communication suffers as well.  I closed my Facebook account and am rarely on LinkedIn any longer.  If I ever do want to be haunted, I can just look through my old high school and junior high school yearbooks.  They are scary enough for me!

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