Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Family Ties

I talk about ignorance quite a lot in this blog, but the reality is that I’m pretty ignorant myself.
One thing I consider myself very uncharacteristically ignorant about is Facebook. A popular website using interesting technologies that acts as a gathering point for friends, and I’m ignorant about it? Well, yeah.
There are several reasons why I allow myself to be Facebook ignorant. First, and as I have already said in multiple occasions, I don’t think particularly highly about the functionality the website provides: it has facilities for maintaining photos but they are of low quality; it has facilities enabling me to say what I want to say but these are nothing compared to full blown blogs; etc. You get the point.
Second, I consider Facebook to be a major security hazard. Readers of this blog will know that I have been a victim of identity theft when someone spent $15,000 on my credit card, so I do try to keep my personal details hidden. Sure, my blogs say a lot about me, but I try to minimize the type of information that can provide a would be identity thief the opportunity to easily acquire the type of info they would need to get my money without my consent. Facebook, on the other hand, is a potential identity thief’s bonanza: everything you need to know on one page, no effort required. And then there are the additional Facebook applications that collect all sorts of info on you, such as ones that require your birthday date in order to allow you to play scrabble online. It’s just too risky.
Third, there are problems with Facebook the company. Less recent history demonstrated they were all too happy to sell our information away, and more recent history indicates a kind of twisted politically correct morality: On one hand they don’t have a problem with known criminals flaunting themselves on their pages, but on the other hand they remove breastfeeding photos because of their "obvious" provocative nature. As far as Facebook is concerned, violence is good and sex (even at the slightest level) is bad; and most of all, money rules supreme.
Thus while I do have a presence in Facebook I allow myself to remain ignorant with its ways.

One is virtually guaranteed to pay a price for one’s ignorance, and that was certainly the case with me over the recent holiday period.
Perhaps because of the time of the year, I have received several contacts from friends through Facebook. As I don’t like using the website I put a comment on my page saying that I prefer to be contacted directly through emails, but that was enough for a certain relative to become quite annoyed with me thinking the message personal (at least according to another fairly unreliable relative). At first this made me laugh, but a second look made me notice that the way I have added my comment to my Facebook page definitely made it seem as if I was trying to get rid of that particular certain relative.
Wars have begun this way.
In this particular case, if there ever is going to be a war, it will be one sided. The whole incident makes me laugh: you see, as a passionate advocate for the scientific way I do my best to live its values and promote critical thinking, logical reasoning and an open discussion. I can definitely see how that particular relative could deduct I was being nasty towards them, but what I can’t see is why their anger (if that is indeed the case) has to be kept secret. What is wrong with telling someone you have a problem with them if that is indeed the case? How else is one expected to solve problems?
Comedies have begun this way.

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