Not The Facts of Life, but the facts of The Face.
I feel like Facebook has been getting a lot of flak lately. Yes, there are things about it which are terrible and awful, like the games, and News Feed, but I think that people are approaching Facebook with a completely wrong attitude.
Facebook is, first and foremost, a social media website. I don’t know if people don’t understand that, but the point is that if you have a Facebook, there is something about your life that you want to be made public, because in theory, anyone can see your profile; even people with whom you’re not connected in any way. If you’re on Facebook, you’re going to be found.
Which brings me to my second point. Lately, the big trend has been changing your name on Facebook to a completely different one so “employers” or “bad people” or whomever can’t find you. Such a load of crap. I have a friend who recently got a “real job” so he changed his name on Facebook from Mike Johnson (names made up for this post) to Jeremiah Maxwell. Yet, in the url for the “Jeremiah Maxwell” profile, it still says http://www.facebook.com/mike.johnson.1234! Seriously, that’s just dumb. It only confuses your actual friends, and people will still find you. If you don’t want to be found, then just don’t have a Facebook account at all. It’s that simple.
Here’s a true story that happened to a friend of mine in college. We’ll call her Lauren.
It was 2005, right around the time when Facebook really took off, and it was a very different site. People had more personal information up, such as their dorm, so you could find out who lived near you, and your class schedule, so you could connect with people you went to class for notes and such. It was also only open to students back then, and students at other schools could not see your profile, so it felt a little safer. Anyway, Lauren and I met freshman year through her roommate Meg, who was a good friend of mine. I didn’t know Lauren that well, but what happened to her quickly gained attention not only from the school but from the mainstream media. Basically, Lauren was friended by an older student, we’ll call him Seth. She felt like she’d seen him around campus, or maybe he was a friend of a friend, so she didn’t really give it much thought.
Then, strange things started happening.
She kept running into Seth all the time; outside her dorm, in the store where she worked, walking outside the buildings where she had class. For a while, they didn’t talk, but she noticed him more and more frequently. Then, one day, as she got off the bus, he was at the stop and asked her what her favorite Pink Floyd album was, since she’d listed it on her profile. The next day, he was waiting outside her dorm and he told her that he liked the new dress she was wearing in her new profile picture. When she told him that she wasn’t interested in him, he said something like “I know where you work.” That kind of did it; she got off Facebook and all social media, despite it being too late, because he already knew where she would be 95% of the time since he knew her class schedule, dorm room, and workplace. She reported it to the police, and then basically had to change her life around: she moved into a different dorm, changed her classes, changed her work schedule and then quit altogether. Pretty soon after, she gained a modicum of fame for going public with her story and being smart enough to potentially stop an incident with someone older than her who she did not want anything to do with, led talks on nearby college campuses about her experience, spoke to the media, and became a huge advocate for the anti-social media movement.
She had a legit reason for leaving social media, and she did, cold turkey. She was inconvenienced by it, but she learned and grew from the experience and a lot of other college students did too. Now that Facebook is a much bigger thing, it’s potentially more dangerous, but if you’re that concerned about someone seeing your pictures or finding you, do what Lauren did. And if you’re not being stalked, consider yourself lucky.
And that’s why you shouldn’t complain about Facebook.