Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The perils of taking Facebook too seriously


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.

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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?

6 comments:

Jennie said...

... you have a couple of days off, then? Since this is your eleventy billionth post in the last 24 hours...

Mark Valladares said...

Day off? Let's see if I can dredge up the concept from my memory bank... no, you'll have to explain it to me... :-)

Hope that you and Mat are enjoying your break...

Jo said...

No, Mark you didn't unfriend me I unfriended you. Stop being a prat.

Mark Valladares said...

Dear Ms Anglezarke,

I refer to your comment dated 26 August, noting your comments therein.

However, your stated memory of the incident seems to contradict your comment in your Facebook message to me dated 8 August, in which you wrote,

"Just wanted to say sorry - but found you weren't in my list of friends anymore - I keep deleting friends when drunk - or did you delete me?".

Whilst I am happy to accept that it is not your intention to make a knowingly false statement, I must point out that the discrepancy between your contemporaneous question and your somewhat subsequent, and conveniently favourable, statement might lead a third party to conclude that the likelihood that your second statement is more accurate than your first question is somewhat remote.

For the record, I am happy to confirm that you were struck from my Friends list prior to your enquiry, and that it is not my intention to address the matter further in the absence of any evidence in support of your assertion.

Yours sincerely,

Mark Valladares
Liberal Democrat

Steph Ashley said...

OK, well. The reason *I* deleted her was bog all to do with facebook itself and more about trying to avoid her altogether (except for my response-in-kind) after that hideous character assassination she did of an amalgam of Jennie and I on her blog. I knew that it wasn't just a moment of madness because a) she didn't delete it, b) she had been so antagonistic and unpleasant on LDV threads in the previous couple of weeks, and c) she went on to read my next post on sexuality and then post something deliberately antagonistic and upsetting on her own blog.

She's got problems and I hope she gets over them, because apart from the random and unpredictable outbursts of bitterness she can be really nice. And quite aside from that I hadn't yet fallen out with *anyone* in the party in a way that can't be just sorted out and forgotten about, and I'm finding it totally dismal :(

Jennie said...

"Hope that you and Mat are enjoying your break..."

I'm being paraded round his family and taken to all the places he loved as a kid. It's grand. Also, his granny is awesome.