Arment: Social Darwinism on social networks

I keep hearing this weird complaining about Facebook. “My parents are on Facebook, and I don’t have the intestinal fortitude to not accept their friend request, now they can see everything I do.” That’s a common one.

There’s also, “I don’t like the way my personal information is being mined from Facebook, I can’t wait until the new social networking site comes out.” There seem to be a lot of complaints lately. I have a piece of advice that will ease your mind and cease your Facebook troubles.

If you don’t know enough about the Internet to know that all of the solutions to your social networking gripes are at your fingertips, you should disconnect form the interwebz before you hurt yourself.

It isn’t going to matter what social networking site is on the horizon until people realize that it isn’t smart to put your personal information on the Internet. You shouldn’t post your address, phone number, class schedule or anything else that a motivated person could use to mess with you.

Being an attention whore on a social networking site comes with its drawbacks. While you’re posting a zillion pictures of yourself, you are slowly quilting together a digital identity. People can piece together where you live by the backgrounds — be it a city skyline, a street sign or the inside of your house. There’s something else that many don’t realize about pictures: Many phones stamp the pictures they take with latitude and longitude coordinates. That’s right; the pictures have where you are imprinted on them. Post it on a forum and people can just type it into a search engine and find you.

As far as parents, bosses, coworkers and other people joining your friends list: That could potentially make trouble for you if you fly off the handle on your profile. If you don’t know how to act, you probably shouldn’t friend them. This seems to be some kind of problem for people, so I’ll let you in on a secret — on Facebook, you can limit how much of your profile others can view.

If you can’t muster up the courage to limit what they can view, well, you’re sunk. No matter where you go they will follow and friend you. Looks like you are out of luck on that count.

I’m not trying to put forward that social networks don’t try to take advantage of you, they do that in spades. People need to realize that the majority of social networking sites are free and have to make money somehow. The way they mine your personal information is distasteful, but the nature of the beast. They do give you the option to stop a good majority of the invasions of your privacy; you just have to be vigilant and turn off features as they arise.

Some people just don’t get it when it comes to protecting themselves. These people are going to continue to be in sore shape wherever they go for their social networking needs. Social Darwinism applies to social networking, there is just no way around it.