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Happy Friday, Dear Readers!

You know those people who are always over-sharing? The casual acquaintance that blurts out that her husband cheated on her, proceeding to cry on your shoulder; the new parent who can’t stop talking about her infant’s (or god forbid, puppy’s) bowel movements at the dinner table; the co-worker who ensures that everyone knows the nasty little details about everyone else’s life?

Well, Facebook can be a lot like that.

I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. I know I spend too much time on it–precious, valuable time that could be used for more important things. But as a writer, working in a department of one, I love how connected it makes me feel. I’ve met some amazing people on Facebook, and reconnected with old friends. It also lets me get to know new friends much faster than I would have without it. The support network that Facebook can generate is incredible. It’s like a gigantic “word-of-mouth” machine.

I once dated a guy who hated Facebook. He didn’t like how much it revealed about people’s personal lives, how invasive it was. And to my argument that it helps you get back in touch with wonderful people, his point was that if they were that wonderful, you wouldn’t have lost touch with them in the first place. (Interestingly, after our break-up, he dived hardcore into Facebook and is now busily collecting Friends, I assume.)

Facebook has definitely caused some dark days for me. I’ve seen photos I haven’t wanted to see, heard some pretty ugly news, and witnessed a lot of people behaving badly. Remember that support network? For some people, that is license to air whatever dirty laundry they choose, writing something awful in a status update that they’d never say face-to-face.I particularly loathe passive-aggressive updates: Tina hates it when her friends aren’t loyal, etc.

Still, all in all–its time-wasting potential aside–I would say Facebook has been a good thing for me. It’s how I met The Boy and discovered our many shared interests. I reconnected with the little sister of a dear friend who passed away in high school, and that alone has meant the world to me. I am able to “meet” the new babies of friends who live too far away, and watch them grow up, and easily stay connected with friends on the other side of the world (or the other side of the city). As much as it’s difficult to learn of that seemingly happy couple’s divorce through a status update, without Facebook, I would never know and could never say I’m sorry for what they’re going through. In light of all this, the dark days seem a small price to pay.

What do you think, Dear Readers? Has Facebook become too personal? Have you ever over-shared, or has one of your Friends made you uncomfortable? Is Facebook a positive or negative force in your life?

Thanks to Dr. Graham Young for suggesting this post.

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6 Comments

  1. Jodie

    Oh Facebook and oversharing. Great post!!

    Personally, I am not a fan of Facebook. I don’t understand why people think it is necessary to talk about their drunken debaucheries or how bad their day is!

    Most of my friends spend hours upon hours looking at profiles and pictures. In my opinion, it’s a modern day method of stalking! A lot of my friends have hundreds of Facebook friends that they hardly know and have added for the main reason of being nosy!

    Since I am not on Facebook per se, I find it offensive when my friends post pictures of me without my consent. There has been a lot of stress between myself and a close friend due to posting video and pictures of me without asking!

    Facebook has become such a way of life. Many friends no longer send out emails or pictures updating us on how their kids are. Instead, it’s all posted on Facebook. For this reason, I have been forced to join, but have done so under my dog’s name. Yes – cheezy as it may be, I accept only who I want to accept as a friend. There is no pressure or hurt feelings when you ignore a friend request because nobody searches for me under her name! Her Facebook status is funny and light hearted and I am just as amused by her posts as my friends are! By joining as my dog, I have had the opportunity to touch base and reconnect with a few great people from my past, at my discretion.

    For me, Facebook has become a sick means of entertainment more than anything. Especially by being able to see all the annoying status updates of people who have little or no privacy settings on their account.

    Reply
  2. Lisa

    I enjoy Facebook…but I am also pretty good at self-moderating. I don’t post controversial things, or too-personal-things either. But I do have some friends who do. When this happens I try to say something to them in person (or via e-mail if they don’t live close by). I tell them that my kids are on my Facebook and I don’t feel comfortable with what they posted, and tell them that I removed the post. It rarely happens twice. I think if it did, I would have to drop them from my friends list. I want to set an example for my kids. (I can also monitor what is going on my kids’ lives as well but staying in the background) They are aware of my presence and I have taken it upon myself to talk to them when they post something I consider too personal or insulting. They are still learning.I have shown them how to set their privacy setting so their information is ony visible to their friends.

    All that said, I think Facebook is a great tool for sharing with friends and family. I instantly knew when my cousin had a baby, and pictures (LOTS of them) were posted within a couple of days. That wouldn’t happen otherwise. I enjoy being able to chat with high school friends who I don’t get to see very often as they are out of province. I’ve made many friends on a running forum and we also share our achievements on FB.

    I am fortunate in that I have only had one unpleasant experience in the 4 years I have been on the site.

    Reply
  3. Mystic_Mom

    Facebook is so many things for me: it is a way to connect with friends around the world, family too. It is a way to test and try theories for my work and it is a fast way to reach out in the volunteer work I do. I’m pretty careful about what I post, my settings and things.

    That being said, I am often SHOCKED (did I say shocked? SHOCKED!) at what people post! Too much information, too detailed, things your therapist probably doesn’t know is out there, and if you are on more public settings it is out there for anyone who knows your name or a friend’s name.

    The biggest downfall of Facebook is the tendency to drag us all back to Junior High School with virtual note passing, giggling, cliquing and general misbehavior which is unattractive and cruel.

    Social networking can also be a social web that tangles us up, and sometimes people get tangled up enough that they strangle in it, the drown and can get lost.

    Like anything else – a car, texting, power tools – Facebook is a tool. It can be used for good and noble intentions and it can be used to bully and harm people. We, the users, make that determination with what we share, what we engage in and who we choose to allow in our ‘worlds’.

    Without Facebook I wouldn’t have been able to keep in touch as easily and frequently with Holli as I have. I wouldn’t be chatting daily with friends around the world, praying and crying, celebrating and mourning as a community has tremendous power. This social experiment has the potential to bring out our best and the potential to foster some of our worst – but we get to choose!

    I’ve had bad experiences on Facebook, and the gossip machine has cost me supposed friendships but in the end more good has come than bad and I’m thankful for that connectedness.

    Reply
  4. Laura Best

    I’ve found myself a little bored with Facebook lately. I don’t like any of the personal drama that is sometimes there, although I have to say that among my list of friends there are few who reveal too much, but it happens occasionally.

    It’s been great for me in the sense that I’ve been able to connect with a lot of people from the local writing community here in Nova Scotia as well as members from the blogging community that I have gotten to know this past year, like you!. Also those in the little community I live in can usually be counted on for support as well.

    I guess, like anything, there are pros and cons.

    Reply
  5. Karen Camilovic

    No matter what you say or you do, or don’t say or don’t do on Facebook… it is a reflection of who you are as a person. If you are a “people person” and you are communicable, it shows, if not, it shows. We are who we are, and someone, somewhere always knows something about you. Someone somewhere will have their opinion. We are all just people living life. I like having Facebook and all “my people” and their opinions in my life.

    Reply
  6. Story Teller

    Great responses, everyone. Wow!

    @ Jodie – Good for you for coming up with an inventive, fun way to protect your privacy.

    @ Lisa – I agree with you about Facebook being a great tool if used properly, but I’m glad you’re protecting your kids and keeping a careful eye on how they use it.

    @ MM – I am sorry for the bad experiences you’ve had. I’ve found the same with high school friends who are still stuck in that high school mentality. I’m not friends with them anymore, on Facebook or otherwise.

    @ Laura – that connection to other writers is so valuable, especially when you are fairly isolated.

    @ Karen – true, to a certain point. Lately, I’ve been discovering that how people seem is not always who they are. A Facebook page can only reveal what we allow it to.

    Reply

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