I have been asked why I have shared so little information from my profile with those who are not “Facebook/Myspace Friends”, especially since I have recently further restricted what I do share with the general public. I consider this as necessary “Proactive Privacy in the Social Networking Paradigm”. Let me explain.
In this era of the nearly ubiquitous social networking phenomenon, for those of the latter portion of my generation and latter there is really no reason why friends and friendly associates cannot remain connected. Indeed, thanks to online tools such as Facebook and Myspace, we can find and reconnect to friends from our distant past who only ten years ago would have been difficult to track down, at best. However, this has led to many new dangers that were barely thought of a decade ago, including unscrupulous identity thieves and social networking site owners who would try to profit from our personal, private information at the expense of our safety. Anyone who has followed Facebook’s recent pattern of sharing more of our information “under the radar” with only the thinnest veneer of concern for respecting our reasonable expectations of privacy should realize how serious this situation has become.
In addition, there is information that, quite frankly, I am willing to share only with those who actually want an interpersonal relationship with me. In short, if one doesn’t care to be as open with me as I am willing to be with them, I think it best to let them go their separate way. This includes former “friends” who have “de-friended” me and no longer want a social network connection with me, most often with no explanation at all. Hey, I can understand that we may not be “bff”s but don’t you think that if I have done something to offend you or even simply “rub you the wrong way” because of personality differences, you should at least give me an opportunity to apologize as appropriate and consider how to avoid giving unnecessary offense? Indeed, do we need to agree on every issue, or even most, to be friendly and maintain a caring and concerned relationship, even if it is only online and or isn’t one such that we would otherwise get together in “real-life” on a regular basis?
In my opinion, the bio that I provide in my online profiles should be enough to let you know if I am someone who you might want to get to know better, especially if we don’t know each other in “real-life”. It is all the information that I am willing to share with you until we become at least “online friends”. Why? Quite frankly, friendship is something shared. If you aren’t willing to let me into your life, so be it, that’s your choice but don’t expect me to put everything out on display. If you are willing to take a risk and open up to me, then I will happily do so for you. I have lived most of my life pandering for approval and I’m tired of it. Either you choose to accept me the way that I am because you value me as a person or we should simply part ways. This doesn’t mean that we should or that I expect us to like each other’s flaws and mistakes; rather, we choose to relate to and care for each other in spite of them and work towards a meaningful relationship while addressing them. If this is too strong of a statement for you, then there really isn’t much of a basis for any relationship, let alone “social connection”, at all, is there?
I welcome and appreciate your comments.