Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Social Media Does Not Grant You Unlimited Access to Someone's Life

Recently, a friend confided to me that her colleagues at work were being too obtrusive into her personal life. She didn't want to hurt anyones' feeling by unfriending them on Facebook.

Yes--Facebook was a major culprit, although she was also receiving texts at all hours of the day. I asked her if she had made use of the Facebook "lists" feature. This feature allows you to categorize all of your FB connections into categories ("lists") so that you could use some granularity in terms of what you want to share on FB. For example, anyone could create the following lists:

  • Work
  • BFFs
  • Family
  • Former Classmates

My friend had done this, and it helped--but it was still not giving her the control she wanted. And it didn't solve the texting issue.

All of this got me thinking about the role of social media in our lives.

Many people are wary of FB and other forms of social media. My husband is one--and it seems to be the norm among the other programmer/application developer/computer-related-professional types he knows.

Because I am a writer, I made the decision to be "out there" with my social media presence. However, I have had to temper this with the fact that I also have job that does not not pay me to snark and write science fiction. I *generally* have made it a policy not to "friend" my work colleagues.

I also do not take it personally if someone "unfriends" me, and neither should anyone. Facebook is not an accurate, mirror reflection of your relationships with people, and it should not be taken as such. Some of the people I have the most contact with on FB are not my best friends in real life.

I also am quite sure that many FB connections have hidden me from their feeds. Again, I do not take this personally. Maybe my high school friends do not want to receive the scifi content I like to post. Or maybe they don't care to know about the trials and tribulations of being a beginning writer. Maybe my politics are too liberal...etc.

If they want to hide me, that is their right. I hide some content also.

Social media has been revolutionary in its ability to connect with people. BUT this does not mean that people necessarily want to hear from you constantly...text wisely. Would you want to be tapped on the shoulder at any time of day or night?

So please Facebook, text, and Twitter responsibly. Technology does not give you right to completely ignore thousands of years of "rules" regarding human interaction.


  1. Good analysis, Suze. I think there's a way your friend can also just turn off the texting/alerts. Or just adjust them to what she wants. I know a lot of people who use FB and Twitter on their phones and they aren't constantly buzzed with stuff. My phone does not have that capability... and will not till I get that Smartphone that's as durable as my nifty cell now.

    In any case, totally agree that people need to still think of general social cues and responsibility with any & all social media... to many forget them.

  2. Agreed Trish....people act like regular rules of social behavior don't apply, because it's "virtual."