‘View my profile,’ and the rest of my personal life

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By Cloie Swain / Staff Writer

By Cloie Swain / Staff Writer

“Zombieland,” the immortal, should-have-won-an-Oscar movie starring Jesse Eisenberg had a moment in which one of the more socially relevant quotes was uttered by his character.

“The best thing about Zland… no Facebook status updates you know, ‘Rob Curtis is gearing up for Friday!’… who cares?”

This is the pinnacle example of one of the most irritating and potentially damaging trends in pop culture: social networking.

If there has been one thing to legitimately complain about in the past five years, it has been the absurd rise of over sharing via social networking sites such as MySpace, Tumblr, Facebook, and of course Twitter.

The complete ridiculousness of these sites, “tweeting” to people what you are doing at that second, updating your Facebook to show off how much fun you had, starting MySpace battles via threatening adjectives and overcapitalization, has led to over sharing and a too much information overdose.

Being able to tell your “friends” and “followers” what you just heard on the radio or the amazing job the barista at Starbucks did on your coffee is flat out a waste.

A waste of effort on your part, time to read on their part, and battery power on whatever device sent or received that information.

Just a waste.

And now, Uncle Sam is getting involved.

In a letter to Facebook, several United States senators shared their worries that it is getting too lax in their privacy.

Changes in privacy would allow users’ hometowns and current cities, along with interests and friends, be available to the public.

Also in the letter to Facebook, Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerburg was a concern about letting third party advertising keep user information for more than a day and adding a “like” button to several popular Web sites.

This “like” button would allow people to see what their friends were reading on certain Web sites, and if they enjoyed it enough to “like” it and share it though their profile.

The irony here is that while researching this piece on The Washington Post’s Web site, there was a Facebook “like” button on the article.

Why this is a problem is lost to most people who have the intelligence to read this: If you don’t want your personal information on the internet, the best way to prevent it is to not be the one to put it out there.

One of the most intelligent pieces of advice on Internet tact is put up only what you are comfortable with the whole world seeing.

This wisdom rings especially true now, when people are so up in arms that the government is getting involved.

Facebook is a completely opt in service. Nobody is forcing any user to have and maintain with regularity a profile on it. Same goes for Twitter, MySpace, Tumblr, and whatever unnecessary social “tool” is next unleashed to spread its blight on the world.

If someone truly has a problem with others being able to see what they are reading on the sites that host these links back to Facebook, the solution is as simple as the one before: don’t click the button.

In classic American fashion, choosing the most minute thing to trace back to the idea of Big Brother is how we entertain ourselves while in reality, Big Brother most likely does not care what we are doing with all of our status updates and tweeting about the sandwich we just ate.

This is a purely social driven issue.

The thought that the new Big Brother is Facebook could become a reality, but it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Posting what you are doing on your social networking site is a user decision. Assuming that anything on the internet is private is a foolish mistake.

Being able to keep up with friends is the best benefit of these sites, but as it has become apparent, there are thorns along with the rose.

Cyberbullying, identity theft, sexual harassment, and a multitude of other serious problems can result from being promiscuous with your web browsing and information sharing.

But this can be contained, if the masses of Internet users take the time to learn how to combat these potential issues.

First off, the whole privacy thing on Facebook can be easily avoided.

Literally with four clicks in the privacy settings, you can remove your profile from even being searched by anyone but friends. Thirty seconds and done.

As for the rest of the problems, it is not difficult to figure out how to avoid having problems.

Don’t respond to creepers.

Block the strange people who keep messaging you about that one time at band camp.

Add only the people you have physically met. Basic, basic rules of thumb.

Social networking tools can be a great way to keep in touch, but over sharing and cavalier spreading of personal information on the web is dangerous.

But the great news is that it can be stopped, with just a tad bit more self censorship and responsibility.



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