At least, I have not been convinced yet that the cost is high enough for such a HUGE sacrifice. Because I get a lot out of it. It is the only path I’ve found for keeping in touch with people I don’t see anymore. It is what classmates.com never was because it wasn’t free, for one, so it wouldn’t help to join if you were the only one. And it was only for old classmates.
I am back in touch with people I haven’t seen in almost 40 years, and I am in constant touch with friends and family near and far. I know family that I otherwise would not even know. I have met up with people, gone to events organized online, because of facebook, a tribute for an old band teacher from 9th grade and the 50th birthday party of two friends I hadn’t seen in 30 years, for example.
I am aware that what I post is not secure. I keep that in mind when I post. I don’t post anything that is particularly private. I do post my opinions, sometimes, but as I am reminded by the coffee mug that my family bought me when I was probably late teens, and I still have it, it’s on my desk at work, where I bring mugs to die, because I always end up breaking them there, and I figure I’ve had this one long enough, only it won’t break, “Everyone is entitled to my opinion.”
The thing is, I’m not completely frank on there. Who is? Some. Maybe the warnings are more for them. I use it mostly to keep in touch, and everything else I post on there is relatively non-controversial. But that’s a shame. A part of me wants people to be even more forthcoming. Maybe it will follow you everywhere for your entire life, giving employers, governments, fascists, material to judge you by, and maybe even punish you for, but if everyone were honest then that would make it kind of hard to judge, wouldn’t it? Am I going to pass on a candidate for something stupid they did when they were young, when I know what every other young person did that was stupid when they were young, and for those I don’t I can assume they also did something stupid?
I believe in the right to privacy. But I also think the more we share, the more we understand. And what greater path to salvation is there than understanding each other?
That said. When I do share on facebook, it is only my intent to share with friends. If other people have access to it, I don’t necessarily think that will hurt me, but it isn’t my intent. I agree that facebook shouldn’t share it. In fact, I was pissed with facebook when they had this feature where if I posted a comment on any public post, they would actually put it in the feed of all my friends: “look what Andy said!”. I ranted politically on my cousins page. I knew it was public and I didn’t want it seen by co-workers, but since they didn’t know her, I considered myself pretty well protected by the probabilities. At least until facebook decided to point it out to them. I didn’t necessarily think that was illegal, just stupid. I don’t think they do that anymore.
And what about this charge that an analytics company working for the Trump campaign got a hold of Facebook data to use in targeted advertising for the election. What data, is my first question? Was it really everything we posted? Or was it just what we show interest in? And is this really the worst accusation you can level against them? OK, not a fan of Trump, but targeted advertising is a way to find people who might actually be interested in what you’re selling. If they have an idea that you are conservative and want to target you to get out the vote, would the person targeted be complaining? If you care about a particular issue, and they want to target you to tell you that Trump also cares, or that Hillary doesn’t, is that not information you could use? Now of course they could be lying to get your vote, and sensationalizing for people they think they can get worked up, and rallying around hate, but that’s a different issue. We as a people need to see through that. Complaints that these tactics allow companies or political campaigns to manipulate the populous assumes that we are all children, and maybe we are. But we need to grow up. That’s the solution. Don’t complain to the teacher. Offer the student other alternatives.
None of this means we shouldn’t negotiate the waters to encourage better behavior. If we don’t like how Facebook is making money, then maybe we can make it less profitable for them. We are, in fact, making a deal with them. It is not, as I saw written somewhere, “to use their service in exchange for security.” That’s not the deal we make with them. They have no interest in providing us security. They are not hoping that we join up so that they can provide us security. What’s in it for them? The opposite. We are making a deal that in exchange for this free service, they can monetize our participation. Otherwise, there’s no incentive for them to provide this service. And they probably can’t make enough just by showing us advertising, especially if they can’t target our interests based on data analytics they share with the advertiser.
I wonder though, how much money do they really make off of me, if I never buy anything, and if I only use the service to keep in touch with people? And what if I can minimize the extent to which they can monetize me? I don’t even like facebook all that much. I used to blog. Before facebook, I kept a blog in a blogging community and read other people’s blogs and it was kind of like facebook, in that we shared personal information about each other, but it was less superficial. We wrote longer pieces, and elaborated on our thoughts. We did not generally post pictures of what we were eating that day, though we may have posted pictures of our vacations, while also writing about it. I actually met new people that way, got to know them well enough to trust them, and I am now, even after that blogging community has become defunct, facebook friends with many of them. I think it was much better sharing in that way, and a more effective use of time. I do not grow as a person as much from reading most facebook posts.
Can I convince any of you (the small percentage of you who read this far are good candidates) to start a wordpress blog? We could all subscribe to each other and comment on them, and have a real exchange of ideas. And then we can post a link to it on facebook, but without actually putting any of the content on facebook.
Not everyone will be up for that, takes a little more work, and that’s not what everyone is looking for, but it has its benefits. It takes learning about each other to a new level. It can be more intimate, and more enlightening, and even spiritual. WordPress is easy, and it is free, and they even have an app. See how pretty this site is? Who is up for it?