Unlike a lot of people in these interconnected times, I like to keep my life compartmentalized. I have boxes for each facet of my life, and I go in and out of them daily, monthly, annually, or whatever. Some would think I am highly organized (which I am definitely not), others (probably most) might think I’m schizophrenic (nothing’s impossible). I even work off of 2 different calendars, as it hardly ever occurs to me to merge them. Or it could be that I’m too lazy. Whatever the case, the system works for me. So, being that parts of my own life are so disjointed, why would I ever want to connect with all the parts of someone else’s life? Talk about overwhelming.
I am a reluctant, but sometimes prolific user of facebook. When I’m prolific, it’s usually around a political or social cause which I’m passionate about (I’ll soon be posting a lot in the run up to the 2012 election), but never anything personal. You will never see a post from me about the state of my health, my life, my job, or my family/friends. It’s nobody’s business, and to be quite honest, I tend to block from my news feed people who do. Every once in a while is allowed, but everyday and I think you need a therapist, not the online community. This goes for good and bad personal updates, by the way.
But I’m on a tangent, back to the point. Recently, facebook announced a lot of changes around online interconnectedness called frictionless sharing. This, to me, is a scary thing. Now, not only do you have to be careful about what facebook posts you like and comment on, but you also have to be careful about what you do OFF facebook as that could show up on your “friends”‘s news feeds. I’ve already seen a few posts which showed what some of the people on my friends list have been reading in the Guardian newspaper, as well as what they’re listening to on the online music service Spotify. Some people don’t mind this and may have purposely provided this information, but I’m not sure this is true for all cases. I know there are people on my friends list who wouldn’t know where the facebook privacy settings are if you took them directly to the page and pointed (though to be fair, the settings aren’t so straightforward even if you can find where they are). I understand that you can’t even sign up for Spotify now unless you link the account with facebook. Wow. Then there are all of these applications (“apps”) and like buttons floating around websites which can automatically flag what you’re doing to other people.
My solution: Stay away. I don’t do apps and I only hit the like button on friends’ facebook posts. I never like anything offline (i.e. off facebook). I’m so paranoid now I make sure I log out of facebook after each session (though I read that doesn’t necessarily help).
All this is part of a larger issue for me (partly due to my compartmentalizing) which explains why, although I am big fan of Apple, I don’t have an iPhone and happily carry around – separately – an iPod, blackberry and Mac laptop. Most people who use iPhones are in it for the apps. Like I said, I don’t do apps. I’m sure there are some amazing ones which could possibly add value or mild enjoyment to my life. However, I can’t miss what I don’t have. It reminds me of a BBC series which aired a year or two ago which was like The Apprentice for artsy types called Design for Life with Philippe Starck as the Donald Trump/Lord Sugar mentor/impresario. He tasked the contestants with designing some project to remedy an ecological problem. His criticism of one of the designs was so on point. The criticism was that the contestant had created a solution for a problem which did not exist. To me, that’s what most apps do: create solutions for problems that don’t exist. Same with all this online sharing. Whose problem are they creating a solution for? Theirs or ours.
Don’t get me wrong, I love connecting with people (hence this blog), but I just like to be in control of what and when I share. And as people are starting to note, all of this “sharing” is actually leading to increased isolation. But that is for another post.
In the meantime, I happily remain a progressive luddite.