Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Behind the Wall

The brouhaha has kinda died down now, well, for the "regular" Facebook users.  I'm thinking, for the developers that showed up at Facebook's f8 conference on September 22?  Not so much. Much has been written about the during and after - and I'm not even going to pretend to be a techie.  But, what I am interested in are two issues.

Something about this sentence (from the same site referenced above) disturbs me: "He said that he wanted people to “fill in the gaps” so that all users’ personal information was on their Facebook profile."  I believe that was largely in reference to the soon-to-be-released "Timeline" feature.  I'd tweeted about it that day - or the day after.  Stteo: "It's not your online life; it's your life online!"  Now, I'm for slowly - and guardedly - adapting to advances in communication technology.  I'm just not comfortable with putting my life, for each moment to be tracked, online.  Yes, yes.  Manage your privacy settings, you might say.  Even then, why would I want another human being - any other human being - to be able to be all up in my stuff?  And that's just for those to whom permission is given.  There are those, behind the scenes, with access to servers on which ALL that information is stored.  I like my life offline, TYVM.  And, for the parts of it that I allow to be online? Well, they'; parts that don't offer too much personal information.  (Having said that, though, I will be taking a third look at my online presence.)  It will be interesting to see the road down which this new development leads; the advantage enjoyed by those who use it.

And, speaking of behind the scenes, this next issue has little to with the latest FB developments.  It has more to do with the tendency of folks, who, because of the luxury of anonymity behind the wall of ones and zeroes, tend to unleash their awful selves.  Who knew that there was so much venom and vitriol in some folks?  I'm talking about comment boards, social networking sites, t.o.night newspaper (Toronto).  From friends of friends to total strangers, if you should happen to offend one of these persons, they go behind that wall and let loose!

To be honest, that's not something that I've experienced.  (Well, not counting that one occasion on which a 'friend of a friend' made a comment after mine on FB - kind of questioning and disagreeing with mine - and ended her's with "kmt" (kiss mi teet).  For the uninitiated, that's a Jamaican gesture (not about to teach the 'how to') that meant, in that context, "You're talking foolishness and I'm dismissing you!"  As I recounted that to my sis, she (a more regular user of FB than I) was quick to point out that some of these people can be "dangerous" with their comments.)  I have been, for a while, simply just looking on in amazement.

I read a comment on the Gleaner's Letter of the Day on its website a few days ago, that, I think, captures much of this sentiment. It was made by "Ibumpg".  Writing from behind the wall?  Yes.  And how:

"Most people globally, like to comment or criticize.  This is best done from the sidelines.  We 'preen our feathers' and 'flap our wings' and announce how knowledgeable and experienced we are but will not enter the field of play.  You see, analyzing decisions made by others is always easier that making them, especially under scrutiny.  We are all great in hindsight.

Many of us would never present ourselves as political representatives, not because we consider ourselves incompetent, but because we are not prepared to be treated the way we do them."

This isn't something that's going away any time soon.  As long as there's the provision for anonymity, there will be a spewing of venom and vitriol by total strangers.  In some cases,even by those whom we know.  A little change of name here; a little moniker or handle there, and they enjoy the freedom to lash out.  I imagine that some folks need some form of outlet.  It may be therapeutic for them.  I just think that when it's carried out in this way, it simply reeks of incivility.

What of the art of (civil) conversation?



  1. I think for me, Facebook has taken on different roles - so to speak. I originally signed up because my two daughters used FB and it was a great way to see how their lives were going. It still is. I then discovered that it was a great way to network with film contacts in the acting community, and keep in touch with friends from across the world and locally. I am guarded as to what I publish and allow others to see of me.

    I think the world is a stage and we are most often performers, but whom we decide to let into the theatre of our lives should be a carefully thought out plan.


  2. Thanks, Paul! Had to smile at "to see how their lives were going.". Yes, given that things are made public in real-time, and (apparently) don't ever disappear, we gotta be careful, indeed.

  3. You know, with daughters - they don't always tell their Dad how they're doing. Blessed and thankful that they added me as a "friend", I got to check up on their status'...and magically, I'd drop them a line or call out of the blue on days when they seemed to really need a hug. They're on their own now as I am too, and we keep connected almost daily. But it doesn't replace a real hug. I see them often so it's all good :)