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Sanity Settings for Facebook

October 20, 2012

An awful lot of my Facebook friends have taken to their status updates to school the rest of us on what it means to participate on Facebook.  That fact in and of itself makes this dicey ground for me to comment on.  Especially when the comment I have for them is to get over themselves.

I have friends that despise game requests.  I have friends that don’t like the sharing that goes on when a friend posts or comments on a post.  I have friends that are troubled by the commercial aspect of Facebook and how companies use your personal info for marketing purposes.  I have friends that don’t care what music you’re listening to, what food you’re eating, the fact that you checked in at the bowling alley, or cringe when you curse in your posts.  With the election season in full swing, we have a whole slew of folks who want everyone to shut the hell up about politics.

And to all of that I say: get over yourselves.  And here’s my reasons:

Friendships will always be low-tech.  You should accept your friends the way they are.  If a friend visits your home and shows you photos you’re not interested in, customarily you sit through the tedium and feign interest.  You finish your visit and the friendship continues.  You wouldn’t normally throw the photos on the floor, say, “I’m unfriending you,” and escort them out.  Facebook is the next wave of friendship, and at a basic level, you can’t edit the things your friends choose to share with you.

Facebook will always be high-tech.  Facebook has a myriad of settings that allow you to block game requests, enhance privacy, and generally manage and minimize the annoying aspects of your online friendships.  These will only improve–pretty soon I bet you’ll be able to block all posts with the words “Romney” and “Obama” in them.  With these options at your disposal, you can manage social media far better than your real life socializing.  So if it means that much to you, fix what you can yourself. 

Facebook is a commercial and public enterprise.  Mark Zuckerberg and company don’t operate this humongous business purely out of the kindness of their hearts.  They want you to share with others you know so that others you don’t know can target their marketing efforts at you efficiently.  Once you make peace with that fact, you will be a happier person.  Many of my friends simply don’t “do” Facebook because they know it’s a marketing ploy.  I respect that.  However, when you’re hanging your life on Facebook, then in turn want all your friends to click this button over here and disable this setting when they tag you or comment on your posts, you’re trying to have it both ways.  Facebook is still the internet, and while you have privacy and security options to minimize how far something is broadcast, you should treat your Facebook interactions as public postings.  Asking me to indulge your paranoia is a bit much.  If you want to interact with me privately, send me a direct message on Facebook, send me an email, or give me a call.  All my contact info is on my Facebook page.

Believe me, I empathize with your plight.  I have had instances where friends have written things on my wall that I would have preferred some of my other friends didn’t see.  But that happens in real life.  I roll my eyes when certain friends keep beating the proverbial dead horse by posting and reposting cherry-picked articles that support their view that politican X is evil.  But that happens in real life.  I cringe when folks I genuinely want to keep in touch with use their Facebook pages as a front for their professional and recruiting endeavors.  But that happens in real life–I should tell you the story about the friend who came over and wouldn’t leave until I bought a damn Cutco knife from her. 

But the iPhone 5 I just bought has this nifty little feature.  I think a few other phones are on board with it, too.  It’s called scrolling.  You take a finger, and you launch it from the bottom of the touch screen, and it causes all those posts to fly through your screen. You don’t have to read them at all!

I find this feature particularly useful for one special breed of Facebook posts.  You know the ones… the ones that tell others what to post instead of actually posting something that’s going on in one’s own life.

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