Thursday, October 6, 2011

Integration vs. Compartmentalization

I’m often slow to adopt something.  I often don’t discover television shows until they’ve already been on the air for a season or two… and possibly only after they’ve been canceled.  I have only been texting for about a year.  I didn’t take my first drink until I was 22. 

In my first blog post, I insisted that, although I now had a blog, I would not be joining social networking sites. We all can guess how that went.  Three months later, I joined Facebook because of a video of the Muppets performing “Bohemian Rhapsody.”    You know, like you do.

One of the things I still dislike about Facebook is that it is very difficult to maintain both a professional persona and a private persona.  I am friends with some of my colleagues, but that doesn’t mean that I want them to know how I comment on another friend’s photo.  I keep two e-mail addresses for a similar reason: I like to be able to separate my work life from my home life.

Another thing that bothers me is that people post photos of me on Facebook.  I do not want the picture from the eighth grade Valentine’s Day dance to be on Facebook.  I’d be uncomfortable enough running across the picture in a shoebox in my closet.  I certainly don’t like being confronted with it when I log in and then reading what other people thing about it.  (Seriously, I know my hair was bad.  Do you think this is news?)

I’ve been feeling more and more uncomfortable with my online presence lately.  I read blogs, and make comments that include a link back to this blog.  Okay.  I’m careful to be respectful and kind, and I have complete control over when and where I comment.

But what about comment systems that ask me to comment via my Facebook account?  Then I’ve linked to my real name, and I remain unconvinced that it’s possible to set the privacy settings on Facebook so they actually work.  I just checked my account, and it seems that all the custom privacy settings I put in place when I joined are now gone. 

I read in Rolling Stone that Facebook was planning to launch a music streaming feature.  I already occasionally use Pandora, and like it a lot, but I don’t like that it tells me which of my friends enjoy specific songs.  I don’t need someone I graduated high school with to know that I prefer Ani DiFranco to Amy Grant. 

I recently joined Pinterest, and I find it a nice way to store things I find online that I want to remember.  I do not like that people who are my Facebook friends can follow my pins.  I don’t need anyone to know how I feel about a particular sweater or piece of art.

A voice in my head says, “What’s the big deal?  What do you have to hide?”  Nothing, but that’s not the point.  The point is that I want to feel in control of what I tell people about myself.  I have no desire to share the minutiae of my life with people I know but aren’t close to.

Lots of this, of course, is my own fault.  I could have joined Pinterest with an unrelated login instead of my Facebook one (and would have if I had understood the ramifications).  I could have gently ignored the Facebook requests of everyone but my closest friends and family.  I didn’t, and I accept responsibility for that.

I think what bothers me is that it’s quite difficult to opt out of these things.  I needed to understand how Pinterest worked, which I couldn’t do until I actually signed up.  I am still not sure how Pandora became linked to my account.  It feels as if the integration of my private life into everything I do online is a steamroller, and I’m trying to figure out how to stop it while it’s already in motion.

I felt that I was being a bit paranoid until I read this.  

This morning I deleted my connection to Facebook from my Pinterest account (I think), and then I deactivated my Facebook account.  

Want to know how I am or what I'm doing?  Ask me; I'm still here.


  1. I've read too many dystopian science fiction books to not be suspicious of where we are headed. In most of them it's an online game, sort of a 3-D experience that we plug into voluntarily and lose ourselves in... but more and more I think it's going to be an online record and tracking system that shows our lives, rather than a Second Life sort of scenario. Wow, I'm paranoid in the morning! ;-)

  2. I'm sorry to see you go from Facebook, but I understand your reasons. (And I'm even more thankful now that you have this blog!) It's been interesting for me to watch the original group of friends who convinced me to join Facebook years ago leave altogether, or simply stop posting anything. I know they have concerns like yours, but for me, Facebook has been so incredibly valuable as I feel so much more connected now to some friends and family than I did when I lived in Indiana. Not everyone is great at staying in touch and firing back an email, so I really appreciate the convince of clicking on a person's page to see what they've been up to and what's going on in their life. True, you end up "friends" with a lot of people you aren't really friends with at all, but for me, the benefit of being in touch with my true friends and seeing their photos, hearing about what's going on in their life, etc. is more valuable to me than any possible loss of privacy.