Dear Technology… Signed Mindfully

A psychologist’s correspondence with Technology.

Dear Technology, Has Facebook Gotten Too Pushy? Part 5

The challenges to privacy posed by social media.

Dear Technology,

I’m sure you’ve heard by now but incase the monthly newsletter goes directly to your spam folder, I thought I’d let you know that a mutual friend of ours, Facebook, has been really working hard this fall.

Facebook Graph Search
Facebook's Graph Search
www.facebook.com
  She introduced a new type of search bar, called a “graph search.”  I had just been organizing my finale party for “The Voice”, so it really came in handy.  I was able to search “friends who like The Voice” and I had my guest list completed for me!  Not everyone appreciates Blake and Adam’s witty banter so I was glad that Facebook could tell me exactly who would be interested in coming.  I also wanted some new tunes for the party so I decided to search “music my friends like” and I had a plethora of artists on my computer screen, all indirectly endorsed by my facebook friends.  I had never prepared for a get together so efficiently.

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But you and I both know that with every move Facebook makes, there is usually an off-putting consequence that leads to thousands of users threatening to deactivate.  In this case, the “creepy” factor isn’t too hard to extract, you are now associated with everything you have ever “liked, “posted,” or “checked into.” All of the new graduates should really consider making sure they didn’t accidentally “like” “getting drunk” during their college years before they needed to get a job. 

FB
Once you "Like" something, FB has you graphed.
www.facebook.com
It’s easier than ever for a potential employer to see what one’s “interests” are.  Something I often advise in my lectures on how to create a healthy relationship with you and your devices (which you should read more about here), is to first consider what your mother would think if you posted that status.  I think it’s a pretty good rule of thumb. Information is power; just ask Edward Snowden or the NSA.  Technology, I think you and I can both agree that your presence in our lives makes it more and more difficult for people to maintain their privacy. 

What’s most fascinating to me though is the fact that despite impeding on our privacy, we just can’t get enough of you.  A study published by Ethan Kross et. al (2013) found that the more time people spend with their good ole pal Facebook, the more miserable they are.  Researchers checked in with their participants via text message at various points throughout the day and found that those who had just used Facebook were less satisfied with their lives and felt more depressed than those who had not just logged on.  So we’re not happy after checking in on our social networks and we don’t like losing our sense of privacy, and yet data collected as of May, 2013 by Pew Internet, found that 72% of internet users use social networking sites.

It seems to me like Facebook is here to stay and she will likely keep changing her ways, she really seems to enjoy keeping us on our toes, right?  I envision using our Facebook timelines as an autobiography that we unconsciously created.  On our tombstones instead of simply our name and the classic “RIP,” our ancestors will be able to scroll through the friends we made, the pictures we saved, and the statuses we shared.

Digital Tombstone
A prototype for a Digital Tombstone
http://thecreatorsproject.vice.com/blog/e-tomb-a-high-tech-tombstone
  It will be a succinct and somewhat candid look into how we spent our day-to-day lives.  Wouldn’t that be fascinating, Technology?  It will be interesting to see how we adapt and learn to grow together in the coming years.  In the meantime, I’m going to go to my own Facebook account and make sure I haven’t posted anything too embarrassing in my past.  I should’ve known that “Call Me Maybe” wouldn’t be the hip song of the summer forever.

Mindfully,

David

P.S. as always don’t forget to stay caught up with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and at TheSittDown.com !

David Sitt, Psy.D., is a clinician, professor, and Deputy Chair of the Dept. of Psychology at Baruch College (CUNY). He is the founder of Dance.Love.Now! and host of "The Sitt Down" broadcast. more...

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