19 January 2012

On disclosure

Yet again I have been asked about my presence (or rather lack of it) on Facebook and Twitter, and Google+ and LinkedIn and... I'm not going to go in to all the details about what such sites expect one to disclose about oneself; it's all old hat. That isn't my problem.

My problem is about imposing on other people. I did sign up for Facebook some time ago, and obviously clicked some buttons without reading the small print, as 99% of users presumably do. It then proceeded to "invite" all my gmail contact to be my "friends" --I've been on the receiving end of this too many times to mention, and so I know how much of an imposition it is, not to mention the implied snub in refusing to "friend" someone. (The usual verb in the real world is "befriend"--that does have its dark side, too, but its paradigmatic relationship is rather richer than this impoverished online version.) I then spent over an hour crafting, pasting and editing dozens of apologies to them. Actually, it did bring some people to mind whom I had neglected, but that did not make up for my unintended imposition.

LinkedIn I can understand. It's about networking and business and work. I just don't respond because I'm semi-retired. I'm interested in doing things for people who are sufficiently interested in me to seek me out--which ain't difficult because there is a contact link at the bottom of all my web-pages. I'm no longer in the business of promoting myself, but I can see it makes sense.

But there is a degree of arrogance in other social networking sites, an assumption that other people will be interested in me and the minutiae of my life, to the extent that I can push it at them. It fits with and feeds off the inanities of  "celebrity culture". To a certain extent writing a blog buys into the same idea, of course, so I'm already guilty, but I'm not going to compound the offence.

I suspect--although I can't see how to test this--that there is an inverse correlation between the interestingness (horrible clumsy word, but I can't find precise synonyms) of a person and their compulsion to project themselves to a diffuse cloud of acquaintance on the net. Up-dating a defined community of family, friends and colleagues is a different matter, of course. Even so, I'd rather be selective and incremental--it's about interaction and conversation rather than broadcasting.

No, Google+ circles are not the answer, although a tiny crawl in the right direction.

I've bored you long enough. Should I send this?

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