I do not think anybody should be surprised at this. However Facebook may have been using our information before this latest privacy-violation episode, I knew the social networking site had my number pretty well down when I started getting all of these online dating advertisements on my Facebook home page. How did they know I was desperate enough to try something like that?
As an active Facebooker, I appreciate the abundant social and cultural opportunities the network presents, but I also know they come with a cost. For my part, I feel Facebook has been invading my privacy for years now. Every time I get a friend request from somebody, my private opinion of that person is made available to that person and to whomever that person chooses to associate with. I can either click the "add friend" option or choose the "not now" cold shoulder option.
Of course, I can just ignore the request altogether but that's pretty much akin to clicking "not now." My prospective friend knows either way that I did not reciprocate the friendly sentiment.
What this boils down to is the fact that I have no practical option when friend requested but to accept the request or to offend the requesting party. And accepting a friend request and deleting that friend later? Well that's just tacky. Such a maneuver would prove a flagrant violation of Internet etiquette. If you have ever been de-friended on Facebook (or in real life), you are well aware of the personal offense taken, whether or not you had much regard for that person in the first place.
And so, as the years wear on, friends accumulate, and before we know it we are stuck with remnants of past lives that would not have followed us if we lived before the dawn of the great social networking era.
Remember that ridiculous comment you made to your friend a year or so ago that would be taken completely out of context if somebody overheard it? Well your Facebook does too, and so do all of your friend's friends because they can see it on your friend's wall. Go delete it immediately and hope that nobody got a screen shot of your indiscreet conversation/photo/video for posterity. Even if nobody did, somebody out there remembers what you did, and that person is not impressed. For shame!
After that, you can put up a perfectly tasteful photo of just about anything and watch as that aforementioned undesirable friend posts an offensive or otherwise embarrassing comment under the picture. Now your grandma, who is also your Facebook friend, gets offended and it's your fault because it's your photo and your glue-eating friend. Delete the comment immediately! Now the friend who posted the comment is mad because you snubbed him, and your grandma is still offended because she already saw the post. Congratulations, everybody is upset with you.
Of course, there is always the option of deleting a Facebook account when things get out of hand, but the process is complicated, and severing ties with everyone from Aunt Tilly to your best friend in elementary school may come across as offish behavior, which it kind of is. Rather, the best approach is to keep a low Facebook profile -- actively neglect Facebook interaction and little will be expected of you. The friend requests can pile up, people can post as they please to your Facebook page, and when confronted in real life you can simply reply, "Oh! I keep forgetting to get on there."
Better yet, you can go outside and stare at a tree, blissfully unaware of the huddled online masses who are vying to put you in a socially awkward situation from the convenience of your home computer. Facebook will undoubtedly still be there, in all its glory, after you come back and for a long time to come.
Russell Anglin is the senior reporter for the Quay County Sun. Contact him at: email@example.com