Grafik The Right Idea written on a brick wall

Facebook perils.

This weekend I made two Facebook mistakes. And it got me wondering about Facebook and intimacy. Let me explain.

1. Facebook faux pas #1

I wanted to share some good information with my daughter Jody. I knew that she was in rehearsals and has been hard to reach by phone. So I posted the good news on her Facebook page. It was nothing terribly personal—Max got a scholarship to Michigan Law School and I wanted to let her know.

Well, talk about “flaming trolls”. I got reamed out via a phone message that it was totally “lame” and inappropriate to post that information on Facebook. That I should have called her. And that Facebook was not the way that she wanted to receive information like that.

Oops. She was right.

2. Facebook faux pas #2

I was avoiding some housework on Friday night—and sat down to Facebook and saw that I have received a Note from a long lost high school acquaintance asking for me to join her “25 things you don’t know about me” list. She sent me hers and asked that I write 25 items about myself that most people do not know as a device for me to share more information about myself. And it did it. And before I knew it here was a list of 25 things that I do not really share about myself posted for 25 people to see. How stupid was that? Pretty stupid.

So I got to thinking about Facebook and intimacy. So where does it say that everything that you do or say has to be an open book? Why did I have the sense that I owed it to my Facebook community to participate in a rather silly chain letter that actually involved personal details? And why in God’s name did I think it appropriate to tell my daughter a celebratory piece of information on a public venue that was essentially impersonal.

I think that Facebook has changed the personal/private boundaries of our lives. All of a sudden it is perfectly acceptable to tell the world (of your friends) everything that you are doing and thinking… and even the supposition that they might even care. How in the world did we get to a place where old acquaintances—not really friends mind you—reach out and all of a sudden have (in my case) unrestricted access to my mind? Oh—I know you can put on different levels of privacy. I know you can set up different groups—although frankly I do not yet know how to do this… But what has moved forever is the line between personal and private. And perhaps some of that is good and some of it is bad.

And I know it will take me a while to figure out.

A couple of resolutions.

1. No more posting of family information. My daughter got it right—even though she was a bit over the top—a phone call is the way to go for some information. Not email. Not IM and certainly not Facebook wall postings.

2. I will not feel compelled to share unless I think it over and determine if this is information I would feel comfortable sharing face to face. If it is not—then it will not be posted. And I can live with that. There is some information that should only be available for real true friends.

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