James Governor's Monkchips

Fear of Facebook: Thoughts On The Meaning of Social

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Things aren’t getting any better in terms of privacy related fears. My friend @mauricioswg recently asked on twitter:

“Would Facebook revert to being more private with a massive movement of account cancellations?”

Great question. Facebook hasn’t needed to deal with that kind of churn so far. But look how fast myspace lost its mojo. The Social Network can be fickle.

Why did I start using Facebook? So I could communicate with business contacts. Then it suddenly became the one social network where I could share stuff with my wife and my niece. They opted in.

I prefer some kind of distinction between business and friends, though of course some people fall into both categories. But Facebook just sucks everybody into one service. It introduced a distinction between “real friends” and limited contacts, but that still feels kind of weird to me. Part of work/life balance is keeping things distinct.

Being social means accepting friction. That’s where good manners and etiquette come in. Being social without friction is a pathology. See the concerns about “over-friendly” or “over social” in Williams Syndrome.

Individuals with Williams syndrome have a very endearing personality. They have a unique strength in their expressive language skills, and are extremely polite. They are typically unafraid of strangers and show a greater interest in contact with adults than with their peers.

Call me old fashioned but I want to keep my real life friends and family in a context that allows for privacy. Pictures of my kids are not for general consumption- certainly not by a third party app.

I am still getting Facebook invites from business contacts. Sometimes I know these people but oftentimes only in a professional context- if so why aren’t they pinging me on Linkedin? Not only did it surprise me when Facebook became a place for my family, but to be honest I never expected Twitter to be a professional network.

All this stuff is hard, frankly. We’re still working it out. But it would be great if service providers could work with us on this stuff, letting us do the way-finding, rather than constantly encouraging us to open up and be more social.

Friction in social networks really isn’t weird – its human nature.


  1. I dont put any biz contacts into my FB instead use LinkedIn. Facebook is for real friends only. I’ve systematically removed 150+ people whom I had little or no contact with or interest in sharing my life or posts with. In fact my FB friends are shrinking as is the amount of stuff I share.

  2. I agree with Addam. I seperate Linked In for my professional contacts and FB for family/friends. When FB started to become popular, for many it was a novelty value to find and add as many friends as possible to add on their profile. It also seemd to fill the void of Friends Reunited and with a general natural human curiosity, we wanted to root out those friends and acquaintances from years past.

    I think the tide is turning and with more awareness of potential security risks, questioning who in fact is our information been shared with and thinking realistically “do I really want to be a friend that I haven’t seen since I was 8” is leading to an inevitable purge on our Facebook “friends”.

    I for one, am definitely more aware of who I accept as my friend on Facebook and find that as time goes on, I continue to narrow down my FB friends.

  3. […] Fear of Facebook: Thoughts On The Meaning of Social – "Things aren’t getting any better in terms of privacy related fears." […]

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