Over at Third Level Digression, Yahmdallah talks about his misgivings about social media. I think my own views are very similar. So far, I’ve resisted signing up on Facebook, LinkedIn, and the like because those networks aren’t very amendable to anonymity. And they’re also not as restricted as I’d like. Let me give an example of what I mean: I think they can be used as a good tool for professional networking. However, even if I had a professional profile with my resume and such online, this does not stop other people–say, people I knew in high school or random other persons who know me–from looking me up and trying to “friend” me. I suppose I could institute a policy where I would only “friend” professional contacts or even “friend” no one at all, but that would hurt other people’s feelings. And hurting other people’s feelings often translate to real world consequences. Better, then, to not have a profile at all and sidestep the entire issue.
I think part of my resistance is also due to my own personality. I’m an introvert and intensely private. This might seem sort of silly since I have this blog and a Twitter account (which I treat like an abbreviated blog), but I view this space not as a place to show off (if I really wanted to show off, I’d have my real name in the about page, not a pseudonym) but rather a place to have my say. Whether somebody else reads this or not is irrelevant. It is the illusion that I have a voice in a democratic medium that counts. I know I am not completely anonymous. My family knows I write in this blog. Others know that this and/or my Twitter feed exists because at one time or another, they decided to search for me online. But they don’t read this regularly or have lost interest because I’ve basically kept my posts about my interests rather than social drama.
While I might be interested in what other people have to say about certain issues and what other people might think about what I have to say about the issues, I am far more reticent about revealing anything about myself–particularly anything about myself going on now. And while I’m not particularly keen about nosy people prying into my life, the reverse is also true. My inclination to look up old friends or enemies or crushes or whatnot is virtually nil. If the thought ever comes up, “Oh, I wonder what’s going on with so-and-so,” it is almost immediately quashed because the question, “Do I really care what’s going on with so-and-so?” is invariably answered with a resounding, “No.”
I guess what it boils down to is, do certain social networks have any benefit to me? The companies that run these social media would have obtained my information, random people could obtain my information and a peek at my private life, not-so-random people could also find out stuff about me, and the rest of the information on these social networks will be mostly useless to me because I simply don’t care.
While I suppose I could still do blog-like things on Facebook and the like, I wouldn’t be anonymous or even semi-anonymous while doing it. I don’t particularly want someone googling my real name and retrieving a post ranting about chat speak and the decline of grammar, melancholy musings about certain things in life, or even about finishing a novel in a month. Everyone thinks about random things or pontificates about their hobbies at one time or another. But I think everyone would also agree that these things don’t necessarily define a person. If I were on some of these social media as “the real me”, the minutiae of my life would be the first thing anyone would find. And first impressions, more now than ever, are what others use to form their idea of you–even if philosophically, they agree that judging a book by its cover is wrong. That’s why I’m not on certain social media. Because what’s out there about the real me is already more than enough.