Thanks, but no thanks. Some thoughts on social media.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve gotten almost a dozen requests to join someone on Google +.  It’s the new “hot” thing from Google,  their venture into social networking.  In the past, I’ve gotten a lot of requests to join, “friend,” network, or something on Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, or whatever  social network is the new hot thing.   While flattering, the answer is “No.”  You see, I had – and still have – no interest whatsoever in joining those sites for a very simple reason.  I value my privacy, and their policies about that suck.    I like being known as “Norbrook.”  It’s been my handle on the Internet for almost 20 years, and the actual association of that name with me goes back over a decade from that.  The policies on all those sites would force me to abandon that, and to be bluntly honest, I resent the hell out of it.

It’s not that my real name is a huge secret, because quite a few people know it.  I have in the past posted under my real name, and on a few places I still do.   If you were to search for “Norbrook” through various USENET archives, you wouldn’t find me, even though I was a serious participant on several newsgroups.  I used my real name for that back then.  What Norbrook (or some variation) was used for was IRC,  bulletin and chat boards, and instant messaging. The reason for that was quite simple:  It was relatively short and it was a “unique identifier,” which my name is not.  Yes, I have one of those distressingly common real names.  A while back, I did a Google search, and somewhere around the 19’th page of results found something that actually was mine.

So if my real name is not a “secret,” what’s my gripe about these social sites?  The answer is that I can choose to tell someone now, but those sites don’t give me that option.   It’s not just that, it’s also that there’s a lot of other information they blithely reveal to the world, unless you’re willing to spend several hours on locking it down, and even then, it’s not a guarantee that it’ll remain that way.   It turns out that it’s not terribly secure even if you do lock it down.  It’s a matter of “what do I want people to know.”   In short, my choice.  In joining these sites, you inadvertently give up quite a lot of that, and once it’s on the Internet, it’s there forever.   Of course, the simpler way to deal with that is to not post it in the first place – and the simplest way is to not do it at all.  Which is exactly the option  I’ve chosen.

So while I appreciate the offers, and I am aware of the benefits, my answer to the invitations is still the same:   “Thanks, but no thanks.”

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21 Comments

Filed under Technology

21 responses to “Thanks, but no thanks. Some thoughts on social media.

  1. I sometimes think there is to much connectivity these days. Everyone is an idiot. But at least, before the internet, there were much fewer opportunities for us to become aware of just how idiotic we all are. That allowed us to keep a certain level of humane appreciation for each other. But, with everyone now connected to everyone else, you can’t avoid seeing just how stupid people can be.

    • Well true. 🙂 I long ago realized that there’s a difference between my being an idiot with my friends and having people who never knew I existed before seeing it. 😛

    • Dancer

      Or, you can just check out polls about how many people see Perry/Palin/Bachmann et al as viable candidates for any elected office! The Repugs are winning the DUMB DOWN race to create an electorate that will “swallow” ANYTHING!

  2. That reminds me. I opened a Facebook account so that I could read some posts only available there and haven’t used it since. I need to shut it down.

    I was surprised at how much they “needed” to open an account and the lockdown you needed to avoid it. What was particularly troublesome recently was the technology that they said they would lose that would digitize you and link your face to anywhere on the Internets that it showed up. I did not use my face but if they go that far there is probably a lot of crossposted info that could be found.

    • That is “would use” not “would lose”. Losing it would be a good thing. 😉

    • The other thing that has become increasingly apparent is just how insecure they really are. I read a lot of reports from the “Black Hat” conferences, and the number of Facebook hacks that get discussed are remarkable. But yes, it was disturbing to see the amount of information they “needed” for an account. I’m an old computer geek, and I’ve done my share of security audits over the years, so I don’t hand that sort of information out lightly. I’ve seen it come back to bite people one too many times (and been bitten a time or two myself) to not take it seriously. Even more disturbing to me was Facebook’s cavalier attitude towards that, so I’ve stayed far, far away from it.

  3. I agree and will add my “thanks, but no thanks” to yours. I am ‘socially connected’ enough in my real world life that sometimes the door barely closes on one person before the next comes in. I have enough real ‘friends and family’ who actually sit in my kitchen for real conversation. That is sufficient for me.

    • I’m not quite that socially connected, 😆 but yes, I’m connected enough in real life, that I don’t need to keep track of every little thing someone posts to their social network among my friends and family. I figure if I want to know it, or want them to know it, that’s what the telephone or a visit is for. 😀

      What irritated me, as I said, was that I’d have to drop “Norbrook” as an identifier to use them. Which basically puts a large body of work on the Internet down the drain, and I resent the hell out of that.

  4. namekarB

    Facebook is like a digital tattoo. Once you have it you cannot get rid of it. I signed up a year ago and then decided to abandon it. Impossible. All one can do is deactivate one’s account. Fast forward to last month and I inadvertently clicked on a Facebook link at the end of someone’s blog post which immediately threw me back into Facebook with a “Welcome Back ” message. Arggggggg.

  5. Dancer

    SO AGREE…I love e-mail because I tend to be “wordy” and appreciate choosing my audience for whatever rant appears. It is how I stay connected as I live away from friends and family most of the year (happily, I might add) and this is the chosen connection. Recently, however, as I’m only moderately technologically adept it seems that GOOGLE (or someone/thing) is reading my e-mails and then putting out ads they think might interest me (they don’t) based on things I’ve written…so perhaps the only way to avoid this nosy stalking is to write letters or wait for someone to show up at the door…geez!

    • I don’t think they (at least I hope not) actually read your email just the subject your put in the top. Try writing in something really outrageous like “goat roping” or “frog jumping” in the subject section and then see what ads you get. I don’t use google for anything real or important. There are way better email servers out there such as you can get through Firefox etc.

    • At most, they’re doing a “key word scan” as part of their advertising targeting. I don’t have Gmail for a very simple reason: It requires you to be able to receive a text code on your cell phone to activate it. Since I don’t have a cell phone – they don’t work in my area – I can’t get that code. Apparently, it never occurred to Google that some people live in places where cell phones don’t work. 🙄

      • We never had to have any text code from a cell phone for google mail but we have had that email address for several years. Practically everyone in my family uses it for on line stuff. The cell phone caca must be something new.

        • It was something they started a while back, I don’t know the precise timing. I do know that my Google Docs account (and Blogger accounts) were created back when I was working on the Haiti disaster relief diaries, and Google kept bugging me to create a Gmail account. Which is when I found out about the text code they’d send to “activate the account.” 🙄

      • Rose Weiss

        Gmail doesn’t require any texting for activation. I very recently helped a clueless friend set up a gmail account, and it was all done online. No cell phone needed.

  6. Dancer

    Well we’re so “out of it” we only use cell phones for phone calls…no texting, no apps, no checking e-mails…just PHONE CALLS!! Weird, I know but I have a Kindle for reading, a cell phone to find my husband in large stores, and a laptop for e-mail and other online activities, oh, yeah, sometimes reading KINDLE books and streaming NETFLIX…works for me…but thanks for the “tips…

    • I still use land line phones, and yes,there are still pay phones in this area. I have a blast when some company tries to sell me on their cell phone plan. They all start with something along the lines of “we’re offering a terrific deal on….”, to which I reply “If it’s not free, it’s not something I’m interested in.” 😆 I have absolutely no interest in paying for a service I can’t use. I guess I could make the 12 mile drive over to the next town, where I could get service (if I’m in the right spot), but I’m lazy. I’ll just pick up the handy wired phone in my apartment to make a call.

  7. Dancer

    Another annoyance is the “bundling” that, apparently companies do to entice folks with cell phones (including kids) to have services they do NOT need and, IMHO, should not WANT especially when money is tight!
    BUT, a positive thing relating to social media came my way last night…a friend sent along this link (EXCELLENT) that she received via FB…honestly it is brilliant and I wish would be the president’s speech!

    http://www.ludiclive.com/2011/09/05/storm-the-fort-ye-knights-of-labor/

    • Bundling is another blog post 😀 but I’m often now in the position of being a “technology luddite,” which is rather odd, considering my background. One of the things I said a while back was “Who thought it was a good idea to give teenagers a portable phone with a built in camera?”