Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Shadow Side of Facebook

Something peculiar happened.

I usually keep several home page tabs open on my browser, and one of them is Facebook.  I confess to enjoying Facebook:  I like to put the Wordies and definitions up, I like to read the silly things my friends share, I like some of the links they put up.  I love the admiring comments when I post a quilt photo. It was through Facebook posts that I learned of the death of my friend's husband and the sudden  hospitalization of a coworker.

I have nothing whatsoever to do with Farmville and its clones.  I rarely join a group.  I seldom go to pages that people "like," and I almost never respond to an Instant Message.

It happened out of the blue.  An Instant Message popped up at a peculiar time from someone I know at church.  "Hey, Nancy," it began.  "Got a second?"  This man had been unable to attend a meeting I'd been at, and I thought perhaps he was wanting to know what had happened.  So I replied, "Just about a second."  After a bit of a wait, the reply came, "I want you to try something real quick." 

Something did not feel right.  This did not at all seem like something my church friend would do.  I signed off Facebook immediately. 

Of course I don't know what would have happened if I'd stayed on.  My hunch is that I would have received a link to some scantily clad women.  Or worse.

So now I'm rethinking whether or not to remain a Facebooker.  The fun part is very much fun.  The informative part is, well, informative.  But the shadow side makes me uncomfortable.  Like the identity thief who caught and inconvenienced someone I know, causing her to eschew Ebay; like the other friend whose email helped her to download a virus that caused problems; and like the agitator who leaves nasty comments on blog posts, there seem to be sinister aspects to the Facebook experience.

It is sad, I think, that some people have to taint things that are basically good.  But I suppose it has always been that way, and always will.  Meanwhile, I've got some thinking to do.


13 comments:

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

Hi Nancy, it has been a while since I checked in with you. I know what you mean about FB, but I really do like the connections I've made. I am not so crazy about keeping in touch with people I know locally, but I do love to see what my blogger pals have to say or share on FB. It does make me feel connected. I also have a FB group that just contains my blogger buddies that no one else is allowed to access. You may want to do one for your quilting friends that only you & they can access.
By the way, I love your Kennedy quote & the photo of the young man holding the Jesus quotation. There seem to be few of these thinking folks around now a-days. Everyone seems so angry; it is wonderful to see your take on all the turmoil. LF in TX

Annemiek said...

I don't "do"FB for several reasons, but if you enjoy it so much, perhaps you can accept the darker site. People do nasty things online, 'cause they can do it anonymously. Same in Blogworld; I got nasty comments/emails, lots and lots of spam etc. I understand that what happenend on FB is more disturbing than this,ánd more personal. See how it goes over the next few weeks and make a decision then.
All in all: Nasty!!

Leland said...

The exact same thing happened to me last night! I wasn't as quick as you were to sign off--I kept going until the site asked for my cell phone number--and then I closed down. I thought it came from a friend and didn't realize until I saw your post that it was not from her after all. Thanks! We have to keep weighing the good and the bad, don't we?

*karendianne. said...

Wow. This is not good friend. Not good.

Gretchen said...

I just try to remember the old adage "be aware of your surroundings" and treat FB (and a lot of the internet) like a crowded, slightly sketchy neighborhood. And keep a good security program running and updated.

Linda said...

Just keep Chat offline and continue to enjoy the connections you like on Facebook. It has so much to offer...I just "hide" the things that annoy me!!!

Sweet P said...

I like FB as I get to see what my nieces are up to or least when they post about it. I limit what I post on it and who I friend. Overall, I've been happy with my FB experience.

StitchinByTheLake said...

I got off Facebook several months ago. I miss seeing posts from old high school friends but I got very uneasy when on it - couldn't pinpoint why but didn't like the feeling. blessings, marlene

paula, the quilter said...

Like you, I don't do any of the games or flair or whatever. I do 'like' some of the quilt sites. I also keep the chat offline.

Linda said...

I'm semi-addicted to fb as well. It allows me to see what my daughter is up to and occasionally my son. I also absolutely love playing scrabble. I go on, play my moves and get off again. I never chat and very, very rarely put up a status report. I think if you follow your gut, the way you did with this "friend" you'll be fine.
Lurking Linda

Belva said...

Nancy,
Jsut so you know, that wasn't your friend. It was a new phishing scheme. Good thing you signed off, he probably didn't and now his friends are getting messages from him. Don't ditch FB, just keep a look out for scammers. This was not your friend being weird.

Leslie said...

That would be unsettling, a wolf in sheep's clothing as it were. But you might consider writing FB with the details of your experience; they are committed to creating a phishing and spam-free environment.
Word verification: lesse. A derivative of my name, Leslie pronounced Les see! :)

Marilyn W said...

I'm with Linda...just turn chat off. Don't let one bad experience ruin the fun of what facebook is supposed to be about....