(Written by someone who has real live friends who tease her about the fact that she won’t accept their “Friendship Invitation” on Facebook.)
People have been having a field day lately with Facebook and it practice around violation of privacy. They are slippery around how they design the UI, ever changing, ever deceptive, hard to find controls..
There is another, even more elusive aspect, which I think also needs to be noted.
The Battle in this Country is for the Mind.
We sit at our computers, seemingly alone, or next a handful of people. This physical reality makes it natural to put our guard down. But we are not alone. We are connected with hundreds, thousands of breathing, living humans on the other ends of their computers. Because everything happens in cyberspace, cyberspace becomes
an extension of our minds. We are quiet, typing away, our bodies unmoving, information and emotions rushing through us like the natural conduits that we are.
It is the last frontier, our minds. Everywhere you go there is some sort of marketing trying to influence your mind. It’s either politics, religion or open your wallet. First, foremost and always, it’s open your wallet.
Facebook is the pop culture of online social networking systems, designed to create and maintain shallow relationships temporal, fleeting messages that one must keep up with in order to not miss a thing. We are addicted.
Facebook is the physical manifestation of Addiction, designed and controlled by people who want something from you. Everything about it designed to hook, hook, hook and keep you there. Mind-numbing games, hope of lost or new love, a platform for attention and countless emails in your box bringing you back, one click away.
Finding the many little preferences that turn off all these various features with hooks takes far more thought and time than most people are willing to spend. That is the whole point. You are not thinking. Actually, you are supposed to be focusing on something else (like your job). You are not thinking, so it is easy to let seemingly unimportant things slide… or slip in. Facebook is not important, we know but then why do we allow it to occupy so much of our minds? It blows me away that there are human beings paid to use their precious passion and creativity to come up with such endless ways of generating community spam.
Never forget. The goal of Facebook is not to create community, to enhance culture, to support the arts ..it is to make money. Never, ever forget that. It is no big brother.
Lack of personal boundaries
One classic aspect of addiction is lack of boundaries – in relationships with addicts or use of mind-numbing operatives. The entire premise of Facebook is to have lots of people we barely know in our intimate mental space as much as possible. In some ways it’s like become a psychic overnight and becoming barraged with information that may or may not be meant for us. We are privy to things we don’t want to be privy to, things that may upset us or bore us or make us want to respond. The point is, we are wasing energy on things that are not life sustaining.
We also have access to the movements of people’s activities, events, rsvp’s.it’s kind of like sanctioned open snooping. It’s not really snooping because people are sharing. Some things could not be turned off if we wanted to turn them off. This takes away from our precious energy, time and creativity thinking about things that we truly care about, preventing those good things in life from being able to grow. Like weeds in the garden.
In normal human relationships and daily existence, there are lots and lots of people that we don’t really want or need to think about every day. But on Facebook, there they are. They wanted to “connect” and now they are in our field as often as they post. If there are unresolved issues with that person, there it is. If they narcissistically talk about themselves all the time without commenting on anyone else’s posts, there they are. If they are people best left in the past, the past comes back. We are being encouraged to have unwanted and often inappropriate intimacy. Why do we keep these people on?, we ask ourselves and go back to our coffee.
The guise of intimacy as a hook.
Those who become enchanted with the specter of real human connection with more people may find themselves over-sharing. They may be over-sharing for other people’s taste but more importantly, they are over-sharing for their own self comfort as well. Over-(self)-exposed creatures tend to go through period of cutting tons of friends out to gain a sense of psychic privacy….which leads to another thing.
“What’s on your mind?”
Is that a question that you ask people you don’t know very well? They why are we answering it to a platform of hundreds of people? And why that question? What other questions could there be? How would it shape the communication and human interaction that happens up there? How about “What do you love to do?” “How are you going to save the world?” “What are you working with?” “What do you need help with?”
Words have power. Over history, governments and political parties have misused.. twisted words to change public consciousness and response to those words and ust them in a different way. During times of war, words are often stolen from the peace movement and redefined and deployed to mean something else. This weakens the original use of the word. Peace-keeper, friendly fire, collateral damage, preemptive war.
This is not new stuff. This is marketing. Take an image or word that invokes human emotion or attachment to and attach it to something else.. a product. Embed both deeply into the subconscious.
This “Friend” thing is the trophy hook of Facebook. To use the word incorrectly is the first and most powerful way of bending one’s consciousness to being fooled in some subtle way that all these people are actually friends. But deeply, we cannot change the meaning of the word Friend. Which makes these connections seem so .. personal in some hard-to-put-your-finger-on, creepy, subtle way.
Some people have a hard time saying No in real life. This can get out of control with friend invitations on Facebook. For me, if someone has 2000 friends, I’m like – no way. If they look interesting and are in my town, I refuse their friendship but ask them out for tea. I’ve had plenty of people get upset with me but no one has come out for tea.
The HOOK is the guilt about letting go. We let go of people all the time in our minds but on Facebook it is not silent. It’s public. Eventually the other person knows and even though it’s not personal, it’s personal. So rather than being honest about who we want in our cyber-consciousness, we let them hang on.
Hence the Hide button. You can hide those annoying people who are constantly on the verge of reporting their next nose picking but they still pop up! Everytime one of our other friends comments on their post, there they are.
Why don’t we have control over what and who pops up? Why?
There are solutions. Read ahead.
Make your Own Facebook Policies
OK, Facebook is a big sucking psychic octopus…of time, energy, thought, creativity and focus, but it doesn’t have to be that way. It can be used for community building, appreciation of our loved ones and warm regards but only if we take control of how the information flows.
I got a little freaked out with too many connections so I came up with a way to cut them down and do as much I could to not make it personal. I am a community organizer and wanted to push all the wider connections to my Facebook “pages” where the information flow has to be more intentional. Hey, maybe people will actually talk about the things we supposedly have in common with somewhere! Let’s see. I posted a warning that I was cutting community connections. Then after I did, I put on my profile the following:
“HERE’S HOW I PLAY THE FACEBOOK GAME:
If you want to follow my work, thanks! See pages (list of Facebook pages with my public activities). If you want to be my friend, call me, meet me for tea or be a pen pal. Love Is Stronger Than FB.”
Shortly afterwards one person removed themselves from both of my pages, I assume upset that they had been “defaced” but it was only one. That seemed pretty good. Anyone who is really my friend would have called if they were upset.
What else happened? My world instantly gained a mental and psychic peace I had not felt in a while. I am infinitely grateful to myself for taking care of myself and not looking for approval or asking permission first.
I’ve spent a few hours in the FB account settings, too, really thinking about what I want to be public to whom. It’s worth it. I found that we DO have control over which of our own interactions pop up on other people’s walls. Look up Settings>Applications>Wall>Advanced
Behind the Curtain
OK you know this but maybe it’s time to pull out of our subconscious the fact that everything posted IS saved. And don’t fool yourself thinking that the company does not use, sell and lend that information to all sort of parties, including the gov’t. To delete posts on your wall through history, you have to do it One by One. I am a moderate poster, averaging one a day and it took me an hour or so to wipe my wall.
So if you ever want to cancel your Facebook account (which is a feat of it’s own if you can find the preference), you might want to delete your stuff. If you don’t, they won’t. That’s for sure.