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Sep 29

Written by: Greg Runyon
9/29/2011 5:01 PM 

It seems like these days everyone, everywhere, wants to know what everyone, everywhere is doing. We have all of these social networks where we get to find out every thought that rambles through our “friends'” heads. We have cameras watching us drive, and bank, and pump gas, and shop, and damn near everything else. Not to mention the dopes who film their own crotches and post it online for the world to see. Take heed: Most people, assuredly, do not want to see your nether regions. Unless you are Anne Hathaway, in which case, post away.

Watchers are watching everything. God forbid you be the slightest bit stupid when you're enjoying a few cocktails, or someone will snap a shot with the now ubiquitous cellphone cam and post it somewhere. I thought half the point of having a cocktail or two was to be able to be the slightest bit stupid, but no that's not the case, at least not anymore. People who in the days of yore would have been called rapscallions or knaves or scalawags and gossiped about with a bit of a wink are now on the sex offender registry because someone got a pic of them pinching a woman's bottom. Anne Hathaway's bottom, perhaps. But I digress.

I hear there are more changes coming to Facebook, and while I'm willing to take a wait-and-see attitude toward it, I don't much care for the sound of what's coming. I just gave up on playing “Words With Friends” on Facebook because I didn't care for the automatic exposure of me that it was demanding. Words With Friends is essentially Scrabble, able to be played via a Facebook app. The thing I could no longer abide was that it insisted on being able to post what I was doing in this game to my wall automatically. Uh, no thanks. If I want someone to know that I played “hippopotamus” on a triple word score and tallied a kajillion points, I will tell them. Let me say “sorry” here to those of you I left hanging in the middle of games now that I've quit, but I'm not going back (and let's face it, I was probably going to throttle you anyway, given my powerful vocabulary, so best to just let me ride off into the sunset.)

Of course, what the app builders want is to advertise that I'm playing, so my legions of “followers” (I call them minions, thanks) will play and sit through the ads you have to sit through in order to play. I guess I'd rather not play than have my comings and goings automatically plastered on the Internet, so I won't be playing anymore, or watching the ads you want to sell anymore, or advertising your little app to my minions.

I hear that Facebook has a bunch of music-streaming services they're doing some cross-pollination with, so everyone will get to see that you're currently listening to Rick Astley's Greatest Hits or African bongo music or whatever. Why don't they just partner up with the electric company too, and let everyone know how many kilowatt-hours I'm using currently? Or have an oxygen sensor telling everyone that I'm still breathing? Seriously, if I want everyone to know everything I'm doing, I'll go ahead and post it.

It seems different to me, this idea of having other entities auto-sharing what you're doing. It seems like it diminishes the impact of social networking. Granted, me posting what I had for breakfast is no great bit of literature, but at least there is some personal intent to it. Maybe I'm trying to be silly. Maybe I'm trying to show people how healthy I eat. If some music player app just auto-posts every damn song everyone listens to, we'll all just be bombarded with too much information. It's pretty bad already, with all the game apps that I see people using and I have to block. I don't care that you need some hay for Barnland, or that you're in some weird Facebook crime family and need a garote (and would like me to buy it for you, presumably. Isn't that likely to make me a fake accessory to fake murder at some point?) 

There is a saying, something along the lines of “Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought an idiot than open your mouth and prove it.” The ship may have sailed on people keeping their lives private. Perhaps we can update the phrase for the modern era of constant exposure thusly: “Better to post your idiocy yourself than let some app do it for you.” That may be the best we can hope for.

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