Monday, December 31, 2007

Facebook and Snooping

As I was reading through Newsweek the other day I came across a story about facebook/myspace and how these social networking tools are directing our social perceptions and interactions even moreso than face to face contact might. (Particularly when face to face contact is infrequent.) We judge people based on how many friends they have. For example, too few friends and you are a loser. Conversely, have too many friends and you are a needy computer geek who is probably online stalking everyone in the state. We judge our friends by what they list as favorite books, movies, quotes, etc. We keep up with their lives through status updates. Is this a sad thing or a miracle of modern technology? Six of my acquaintances were recently proposed to during Christmas break. SIX. Well, my shock is a different story. Suffice it to say that I would probably only know about half of these gossip tidbits were it not for facebook. But luckily, I found out and got to shoot of a couple of congratulatory wall posts, displaying my true and continued interest in their lives, via facebook.

It has its bad side too. Facebook/myspace definately lends itself to forming more shallow relationships. It is easy to get caught up in an online flirtation with someone and let things get out of hand. Also, do I really need an hourly news feed on what my friends and acquaintances are doing at every moment? I think not. Privacy has become a big issue as facebook and myspace both use demographic information to shoot ads (disguised as news feeds) to users.

Privacy and technology has become an increasingly difficult battle anyway. For example, I have been contemplating for awhile now: how wrong is it to snoop through someone's phone or email? I know in theory it is very wrong; you should trust people and respect their privacy. But what about when the snooper finds something? The other day I heard about a couple who have been trying to work out their relationship. It was going well until he found some questionable text messages on her phone. I also know tons of girls who peek into a boyfriends email or phone messages if given an easy opportunity. If a person discovers foul play while snooping, yes it is an invasion of privacy, but isn't it better to know the truth? How bad is snooping a little in comparison with lying and cheating?

I am not saying that we should completely disregard respect for privacy, and I am NOT advocating snooping. I felt bad for days after I changed my name in Jacson's phone (to Lindz Awesome) because I saw who some of his other contacts were. I think privacy should be respected and I am not a snoop by nature. My point is that as it gets easier to track people's communication through technology, who is to blame when secrets are uncovered, whether inadvertently or by minor snooping? If people want to safeguard their privacy, maybe they should take more precautions.

Anyway, that is what I am contemplating as I sit at my office desk and space out. Facebook and privacy and technology. I am lucky that I am dating someone I trust and don't need to snoop to reassure myself, but I can't say I blame those snoopers too much...

1 comment:

Kelly Jean Walden said...

Nothing makes me more nervous than when my boyfriend has control of my cell phone. I have no scandelous text messages (except to and from him), nothing that would bother him at all, but still it drives me crazy. I suppose I like privacy on principle.

As for Facebook snooping, if someone posts information, it's available to the public. We're little exhibitionists, and I like it.