Sunday, 28 January 2018

Phonebook Facebook

A while back I was out with some friends and I met someone. She seemed very nice. So I thought I should look her up. Maybe we could connect. Hang out. Become friends. Maybe more? Who knows...

So I did what everyone does. I opened up the phonebook. Using her last name, I went through the directory alphabetically. What I found was a great number of people with the same last name and the same first initial. That was frustrating. It would have been helpful if each person had a photo of themselves. But, each person did have a street address, as well as a telephone number.

I remembered her saying that she lived in a certain area of the city. Using that I was able to deduce which listing was hers. So I called her up. And when she answered, I said who i was and explained how I found her. She sounded happy to hear from me. We talked for a while and before hanging up, we made plans to hang out together.

No problem.

Because this was 25 years ago.  And it was normal to do what I just did. It was normal because people accepted what means they had to connect with one another. Nowadays however it seems quite different. Connectivity is much more widespread and accessible. And as such, people feel more vulnerable. They feel that they have less privacy. Everyone scrutinizes each other. There is so much judgment. We are quick to slap a label on someone's actions, and create an agreement that those actions are inappropriate.

Look at Facebook. Just about everybody is on it. This to me makes it the new phonebook. And it even has a picture of each person! It does not however have a street address. And maybe that is because it does not need one. But whatever you do, do not go looking someone up on Facebook. Oh no no no. That would be wrong. And you would be a creep for doing that. You would be violating someone's privacy. Shame on you.

But are you?

If someone put their name and face on Facebook, is that really 'private'? You do have the option of having your Facebook profile unlisted. In other words, it cannot be found using a search. It is much like how people would request to have their name and phone humber in the phonebook unlisted. So I could say how in this instance it would be a breach of privacy to try to find someone. But other than that, I mean... um, the Internet is kind of a public place.

Like a public directory.

So next time someone you might have just met, or someone you work with and talk to, or basically someone who isn't just a random stranger tries to connect with you online, don't get so freaky about it. It isn't this huge break from moral ethics that people seem to feel it is. It is the way of the world now. The phonebook is a thing of the past. And I think our attitudes need to adjust and be a little more realistic about that. Facebook has been around for more than a decade now. I think that's probably enough time to evolve and develop a few social attitudes surrounding social media.

And if you find yourself unable to be at ease with these rapidly changing times and Facebook still makes you feel that uncomfortable, then don't be on it.