Roxanne Tellier: ‘Cuz Ya Gotta Have Friends

Roxanne DBAWISFacebook. The Internet. We can hear just those few words and fill a paragraph or two with what we know and think we know about it. What we don’t know is what effect social media is having on us, as it becomes the primary way people communicate.

For most, Facebook is entirely benign and a useful tool to keep in touch with old friends, and see what‘s happening in our circles. Maybe we also meet people who eventually become friends, or even more than friends.

sexy facebookWe add up our “Friends” numbers and sigh with relief; we must be okay, because how could all of those people be wrong? They like us, even if they have come via a friend of a friend, so all is right with the world. But do you really know the people who want to be your friend?

Glen “That Canadian Guy” Foster posted this yesterday: “When someone asks to be a friend and they appear to already be friends with people you know, it gives them legitimacy. So stop handing that out so freely. Ask yourself: Would a girl / woman like this EVER approach me outside of Facebook? When I receive a friend request from anyone I don’t know, especially a hot chick, I do some checking up, then I send them a message asking them to tell me more about themselves. If they don’t reply, or reply in broken English, that’s a BIG CLUE. Thank You.”

Of course it’s tempting to accept a friendship request from pretty much anyone who asks, especially if they are a good looking representative of whatever part of humanity you find attractive. After all, it validates the image we are ourselves presenting, even if that image is fluffed and posed and planned.

vulnerabilityBut unless you’re actually and actively interacting with another person, the only information about their character that you can go by is what they decide to ‘share’ on their Facebook page. We constantly manipulate how we want to be seen by others, whether we’re aware of it or not. It’s rare, and a little frightening, when a status on Facebook is vulnerable and genuine.

The weirdest thing about Facebook friendship is how very real these arms lengths relationships can feel. Several times I’ve greeted people warmly, asked about their loved ones or pets, and mentioned some concern I’ve heard them voice, only to have my husband ask how long I’ve known the person. When I confess that we’ve never actually met in person, he is flabbergasted.

Armed-security-camera1People reveal so much about themselves to virtual strangers every day. I’m doing it right now with this column. A new sort of caution has sprung up around the dangers of Facebook updates; you’ll often find that women with small children refer to their kids by their initials, for instance. That’s not only to conceal dangerous amounts of personal data that could potentially be used against them, but also to discourage potential predators with designs on their little ones.

Facebook continually changes how we view and access friends and strangers on the site. Recently, a new change that applies to 13-17 year old users has caused concern. “From now on, teens will be allowed to opt out of privacy settings and choose to post publicly. This means that adept strangers — including those of malign intent — will be able to view a teenager’s postings, pictures, videos, updates and conversations with friends. Strangers will be able to “follow” teenagers’ timelines.”

In other words, Facebook will now allow possible pedophiles and strangers who like to bully and harass, to troll through the pages of teens, many of whom are not as smart as they believe they are. Hey – I’M not as smart as I think I am. None of us are completely immune to someone who has honed their nastiness to shiv sharpness, and knows where to stick the blade to do the most harm.

If you are an adult, you’re not immune to stranger-danger either. “Frank Abagnale, portrayed in Spielberg’s Catch Me if You Can, and now an FBI security expert, warns of danger to children. The man dubbed the world’s greatest conman, has issued a stark warning about the dangers of identity theft and children using Facebook.

He said having accrued 37 years’ work with the FBI he has also become aware of many widely available techniques to gather dangerous amounts of personal data from Facebook.

He gave the example of a creeper virus that allows the tracking of a Facebook user even if their phone is not transmitting.

Another readily available programme, which Abagnale said is owned by Google, uses facial recognition that can match an individual with their personal information on the social networking website “in just seven seconds”.

“If you tell me your date of birth and where you’re born [on Facebook] I’m 98% [of the way] to stealing your identity,” he said. “Never state your date of birth and where you were born [on personal profiles], otherwise you are saying ‘come and steal my identity’.”

selfie-milf-failDanger aside, there’s an abundance of over-sharing going on in a lot of status updates. I came late to the party, so I was mystified to see the steady stream of ‘selfies’ and beautifully arranged dinner plates that seemed to constitute a large part of what passed for communication.

Even more puzzling is how people react in public places, where the emphasis seems to be on informing others of where they are, and with whom. To lend veracity to the information, they need to constantly photograph themselves and others. So while their intention may have been to get together with the gang to share a meal, or see a band, they wind up spending the entire time snapping carefully posed pics of the experience. And miss the actual experience itself.

People used to worry that their privacy was being invaded. Now they contribute to the lack of privacy by being the “they” they worried was watching. Whether we’re in the spotlight, or on the sidelines, someone somewhere is capturing our image and posting it to their own group of acquaintances. If it happens that something about our actions or appearance catches the malicious eye of someone who’s never met us but taken an instant dislike, well, you may next find yourself a lead character in some viral meme that ridicules that moment you thought you were simply going about your day’s business. Or you may just find parsons_facebook_dating_ad_09_18_13yourself being used as a poster person for some ridiculous cause or business venture. In the case of Rehtaeh Parsons, who killed herself after being internet bullied following an alleged sexual assault, her image was used to advertise an online dating site.

There’s a world of hurt inherent in living in a world of constant scrutiny.

family mealIn reality, social media is not bringing us closer. If anything, it makes a mockery of real friendship. The time we spend texting to people we know only vaguely, takes away from the time we could be spending together physically, sharing a meal, a laugh, and creating real, honest memories of another human being.

friends hugSo I’ll pop in to Facebook now and again, and see how my friends and acquaintances are doing, but I’ll take face-to-face conversation over text any day. A message may keep us in touch when we’re not able to see each other in person, but it will never have the power and warmth of a smile and a bear hug from a good friend.

= RT =

Roxanne’s column appears here every Sunday 

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DBAWIS ButtonRoxanne Tellier has been singing since she was 10 months old … no, really. Not like she’s telling anyone else how to live their lives, because she’s not judgmental, and most 10 month olds need a little more time to figure out how to hold a microphone. After years of doing things she didn’t want to do, she’s found herself working with a bunch of crazy people who are as batshit crazy and devoted to music as she is, and so she can be found every Monday at Cherry Cola’s, completely unable to think of anything funny to say, as the co-host of Bob Segarini’s The Bobcast. Come and mock her. She’s good with that. And she laughs. A lot. But not at you.

One Response to “Roxanne Tellier: ‘Cuz Ya Gotta Have Friends”

  1. Mark Vukovich Says:

    Hear Hear…but I did find DBAWIS and Bob on facebook…so I am facing this dichotomy…do I or don’t I…at my age anybody that feels like listening to my rants is welcome to them…I promise I won’t post any naked photo’s…of me anyway.. ;o)

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