Hey, you’ve got to hide yourself away

12 05 2012

Is it time for another anti-Facebook rant?

(Well, okay, not really an anti-Facebook rant so much as an anti-YOU-MUST-BE-ON-FACEBOOK!!!! rant. And if it’s not time, I don’t care, because it is time.)

Ahem.

Farhad Manjoo loves him some social media. He loves Google and Apple and Facebook and smart phones and probably Twitter and Linked-In and implanted RFID tags which will “let” everybody know where everybody is and what they are doing at all times.

(Well, okay, probably not, but this is rant so I get to lie exaggerate for literary purposes. And, seriously, it took him until May 1 to ask Is it Time to Stop Trusting Google?)

Manjoo and Emily Yoffe have been tag-teaming on online etiquette for awhile in audios for Slate, and their most recent venture has them pondering whether it is possible to opt out without being a weirdo?

Yoffe cautiously suggests that, perhaps, for the young ‘uns, it might seem a little weird. It’s fine, but it’s going to be odd. Still, for those over 35, say (the age of the letter writer to the manners-duo), I really don’t think we’ve gotten to the point where if you don’t have a Facebook page, you’re somehow signaling you’re socially inept.

At which point Manjoo throws his pom-poms into the ring and starts yelling Give me an F! Give an A! Give me a CEB! . . .

Let me first address what I said before. That question came up in the context of a debate about online dating. I said that if you’re going to set up a date with someone and you can’t find anything about them on Facebook… I’d extend that to other social networks. If you can’t find a photo of them and there’s no photo on the dating site either, then you should be suspicious. That person seems to be trying to hide something.

At which point Yoffe helpfully interjects, We’re all trying to hide something, Farhad.

But the Head Cheerleader WILL NOT BE DETERRED!

But to the letter writer’s question beyond dating, I think that it’s better to have a social networking profile for a couple reasons. You are taking control of your online life then. If you have nothing about yourself online, your friends may post stuff about you on Facebook, you may come up on a news story, you may come up on a search engine. I think it’s better just generally to take control of your presence online.

And if you don’t have one, I think people will judge you based on that. Maybe it’s different in some circles. This guy says he works in the trades. I think that in some kinds of professions, it’s not as necessary as others. In our profession, it seems like it’s required.

I’ve looked at the numbers for Facebook. If you look at the demographics, it’s not like only young people have Facebook. It pretty much cuts across most demographic lines, and from what I can tell, also socioeconomic lines. They have a billion people around the world. Lots of people are on Facebook and I think you’re kind of judged now, for better or worse, if you don’t. [emph added]

Aaaaannnnnd we’re all back in junior high.

Manjoo does at least insert a “for better or worse”, and later admits that It’s work. This guy says he feel overwhelmed by it. He raises setting up a generic profile, but that’s going to still be work. I agree. But,as he goes on to say,

it’s your reputation. You have to maintain your reputation in the offline world. If somebody is talking about you and telling untruths about you, you have deal with it and you have to deal with it online.

And how, pray-tell, does a Facebook account slay those untruthy evildoers? Will the mere presence of a Facebook page demonstrate my upright nature, disciplined work-habits, uncomplaining demeanor, and good hygiene? And in such a manner to override and overcome any possible suggestions otherwise?

Here’s a new tagline: Facebook: When You Need To Prove Your Innocence. And You Do.

Who knew social technology could be so liberating?





Where was I?

3 02 2009

Still happy with the apartment.

Still happy. Who’d a thunk I’d ever use that term to describe myself?

____

I took time off to move, and while it was good to have those days to sort my shit, it threw me off.

I have a routine. I may not particularly like it, but I do rely upon it. Last semester, it was Job3, Job2/Job1, Job 3, Job 2, Job 1, Job 1, day off. So, to have four days off in a row was a spanner in the works.

(I don’t know what a spanner is. I just like the sound of ‘spanner in the works’.)

Then, with the new semester, the routine changed up even more. I teach a third class, and ended (temporarily) the temp Job3 last week.

So, finally, the new routine is: Off, Job 2/Job1, off, Job2, Job1, Job1, off.

Diggin’ those days off, yet still adjusting to new routine.

Yeah, I know: radical politics, conservative nature.

Now, when to write. . . .

____

The bummer with the move was that stress so befogged me I was unable to enjoy the inaugeration. C. has a nice take on it at her blog, SoundofRain (link at left), so check it out.

And even though I’m creeping back into crank mode, I am still delighted to hear the term ‘President Obama.’

President. Obama. Fuck yeah!

____

Spanner: wrench.

And I thought it was some sort of sailing term.

____

Fuck Farhad Manjoo.

He had a piece awhile ago in Slate in which he insisted there was no reason not to join Facebook.

Apparently, not wanting to join is an insufficient reason.

Now, some of my best friends are on Facebook, so I don’t want to be trashin’ the ‘book. But. I have no desire to join.

‘You can connect with old friends!’ Yeah, well, I want to connect, I can look up their numbers. If I don’t have their phone numbers, there’s probably a reason why.

‘Old classmates can find you!’ And this is a plus?

I’ve managed to skip all of my class reunions thus far, and am not particularly anguished by my absence. No axes to pick or bones to grind: it’s just that mild curiosity is not enough to get my butt on a plane to SmallTown for an event which will feature food I don’t eat (i.e., meat) and music I no longer listen to. Yeah, I’d like to see LW and LdB and thank JK for one of the most excellent gifts a person could have given me, but, hmmm, if I were to see them, I’d want to see them. So, if the next reunion coincides with a visit, I’ll go. But otherwise? Nuh-uh.

Manjoo also states that privacy isn’t really an issue, given that a ‘booker can calibrate her privacy options, but what of the company itself knowing your business? And the guv’mint hasn’t had many problems getting tech companies to turn over records on its users to whatever master spies/doofus office grunts request them.

Besides, if I can configure my privacy options so that if you want, you can let everyone see essentially nothing about you, then why the hell bother with setting  up a profile, anyway?

What’s truly irritating about Manjoo’s piece, however, is the utterly unrecognized coerciveness of his call to Face: The site has crossed a threshold—it is now so widely trafficked that it’s fast becoming a routine aide to social interaction, like e-mail and antiperspirant. In other words, it is precisely because everyone else is using Facebook that you’re expected to do so. It is the inversion of  ‘if all your friends jumped in the lake. . . ‘ moral, in which the correct response is now ‘yes.’

Not going along with the crowd is no longer an option. Sure, you can trade e-mail addresses or phone numbers, but in many circles Facebook is now the expected way to make these connections. By being on Facebook, you’re facilitating such ties; without it, you’re missing them and making life difficult for those who went looking for you there. That’s right: it is now incumbent upon you to make life easier for those around you—and if you don’t, your life will be made much, much harder.

Okay, so not yet. But I think Manjoo is right, in that Facebook (and related technologies) will become as omnipresent—and necessary—as a phone. As I ranted to coworkers at Job1 the other night, such techs are coercive insofar as they demand their adoption to retain a basic social existence. Sure, you can go live in the boonies without a phone or internet connection, but try to apply for a ‘regular’ (i.e., non-day) job without a phone number. If you lack access to or knowledge of certain techs—like e-mail or antiperspirant—you jeopardize your standing in society. Hell, I got a cell phone because I found it difficult to operate in NYC without it—movers, landlords/rental agents, potential roommates, new friends, potential employers tended toward the incredulous when I said I didn’t have a cell. I consider myself lucky my jobs don’t require a Blackberry and that my friends humor my anti-texting stance.

But don’t I love my cell, now that I have it? Not really. The reception is worse than a land line, and even at the most basic PhoneConglomerate rate, I pay considerably more than I did for my old phone service. Sure, it’s convenient when I’m late or unsure of where to meet someone, but given that I managed to deal with these exigencies pre-cell, I’m not at all convinced of the absolute (as opposed to relative) necessity of the walkabout phone.

Will I capitulate on FB? After all, Manjoo argues that my friendships might ‘demand’ that I sign up. I don’t know. I once stated I’d never own a cell phone, given that there is rarely a political theory emergency ( i.e., that it was hardly necessary for someone to be able to reach me at all times), and now I carry the damned thing with me almost everywhere.

I don’t answer it, though. Loooove those caller i.d. and voicemail features. . . .