Jo Anglezarke has recently commented on her recent problems with Facebook, and I find myself sympathising with her, at least to some extent. I do have my doubts about the wisdom of her comments that appear to have triggered the issue, and of her somewhat intemperate language, but there is an issue here worthy of thought.
Facebook is a wonderful thing, and I certainly found myself semi-addicted to it at one point. You add friends and obtain a window into their lives. Status updates are amusing, sad, puzzling and occasionally intriguing. People invite you to events, or to join groups, or to support campaigns far and wide.
However, sometimes there is a dark side. There is the risk of indiscretion, of saying something because you think that it is part of a private conversation, when in truth, it is effectively committed to easily transmittable 'paper'. For those of us in the field of political endeavour, that risk is all the greater, as occasionally becomes apparent.
Recently, I had a disagreement with a fellow Lib Dem blogger and Facebook habitue. It was then suggested by them that I was foolish to trust people on Facebook as I had up until then, and so I removed said person from my Friends list, not as a punishment for them, more like an exercise in avoiding risk for myself.
I freely admit that I have 'sought' very few friends on Facebook since my early addiction, mostly family in fact, but seldom turn down approaches unless I have no idea who they are (and in some of those cases, it is likely that my memory is poor). I have no conscious notion of how many friends I have on Facebook, although it is on my homepage somewhere, nor do I see how it really matters.
It would be nice to think that we can all value ourselves for who we are, and it's probably naive to take such a stance, but is it really sensible to allow oneself to be destabilised by what is, after all, just a social contact network?