Aloha Friday: Privacy, Schmivacy

Last night my husband deleted his Facebook account, for the second time actually, so I suppose it wasn’t a big surprise. A friend of mine deleted hers, too, and I was actually kind of proud of her and a little jealous. I almost deleted mine, too, but couldn’t go through with it. Not because of my addiction to Family Feud or Farkle or anything lame like that (I swear) but because since moving to Wisconsin last year, Facebook is kind of my lifeline to friends and family we left behind.

Sure, I could write them a letter or email them or call them or something. Maybe they’ll read my blog and comment more. But it won’t be the same. Facebook, as much as we like to knock them down a lot over Privacy, etc., have become an integral part of the way we all keep in touch. And as someone who is classically bad at keeping in touch with people, it’s kind of a godsend.

Of course I could try just chatting with people on Twitter or Skype or something – or like I said, give them a call or email them. But let’s be honest.

I probably wouldn’t.

My fault, I know, but it’s true – and I think it’s important that I be honest with myself here. I hate talking on the phone and I get wrapped up in all my own silly and forget. I can sit here and blabber on about myself until the cows come home, but unless I’m following your blog or your tweets or your Facebook account, I might never remember to check in with you. Just ask my dad.

And Facebook allows me to not only check in on other people’s stats and look at pictures of their cute kids – it also allows for conversation without having to start said conversation with an awkward, “So what’s new?” You just update your status with whatever crosses your mind as mildly important and they do the same – and you comment on what they say and vice versa. And sometimes multiple people comment, and you can talk to them, too, about – whatever. It’s small talk and it might seem trivial, but it makes all the difference.

In Twitter you get the stats and it’s fun, but it’s not a real back and forth conversation – and it’s hard for other people to jump in. With an IM service like Skype or AIM or with an email, you have to initiate that conversation – you have to have something to say to them. As I type this, I’m feeling lamer by the second, but it’s still true. Facebook has really created something special in the way they allow people to converse. It’s not rocket science but it’s well done.

And with so many other websites I use interacting with Facebook, the list of possibilities for conversation grows. I can post my 365 pictures to my account so non-365ers can see and comment, too. My Netflix ratings can get posted there which is fun if not necessarily crucial. I can report buzz from my BzzAgent account and share opinions about the newest little word of mouth website, Smile.ly. And lets not forget the games – of course you can play online games anywhere but playing a game with a friend is always more fun. All of these websites are working with Facebook so me working with Facebook, too, makes it all a better experience. And adds to the privacy issue…

All of these websites and people are all interacting with Facebook and sharing their information with each other and everyone else – and it’s gotten so huge and so popular, that it’s really no surprise that this whole privacy issue has gotten to be such a big deal. It’s all out there – and unfortunately controlling your privacy on Facebook is no small task. There are layers upon layers upon layers of stinky settings to go through – so some people don’t bother and other people, like my husband, just leave. It’s tough.

As a blogger, I think about privacy a lot. I go back and forth over what to share and what’s too personal and how many little things added together could create a problem. I’m possibly a little bit hypocritical about it, being stubborn in some areas and very liberal in others – I do my best but I know there are things out there and I’m taking risks. Same goes for Facebook, but blogging to me has become sort of like breathing – and Facebook is apparently similarly important to me because of the friendships I’m maintaining there. So for now, I’ve trimmed down the old friends list and gone a bit more crazy strict on my privacy settings and we’ll see how it goes…

Anyway, before I write a book on the subject (too late?), I’ll just open the floor up to you guys:

Do you use Facebook? What do you think of their privacy options? Have you thought of deleting your account – or have you actually done so? What would you miss most about Facebook if you left? What would you miss the least?

An Island Life