I had an interesting conversation with some of my friends last weekend. We started talking about the movie The Social Network, which, of course, led to the topic of Facebook, which then led to other forms of social networking. One friend in particular brought up how she had recently Googled herself and found results in her search that she wasn’t excited about, like personal information she had posted on her Myspace page, which she thought was set to private. After hearing this story, I was curious to see the results that came up when I Googled my own name. So I did, and I also wasn’t excited about what I found…
The first thing listed was my Twitter URL, which wasn’t set to private; there was a link to my Facebook, as well as Youtube videos and results from past dance competitions I’ve participated in; there was a comment that I had left on a friend’s Myspace page three years ago; And finally, there was a link to my completely public 20 Something Bloggers profile page that I had completely forgotten about.
So, yeah. Lots of stuff about me floating around on the interwebs, and I didn’t even realize it. But now that I’ve finally realized it, it’s pretty interesting to think about. Why do we, as a society, feel the need to share so much with the world? With all of the social networking sites nowadays (Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Foursquare, etc.), we are constantly sharing everything from what we’re doing to where we’re going to who we’re dating to what we’re eating and where. Is it a need for attention? Is it an act of narcissism? Why are we so obsessed with ourselves?
Not only is social networking relatively pointless, but it can be dangerous too if one isn’t careful. The notion of someone, whom I don’t want finding information about me, being able to just Google my name and look at one of my profiles or read my blog really freaks me out. What if my boss or a potential employer were to see some of the pictures of me tagged on Facebook from one of my drunken karaoke nights? Or even worse, what if a sexual predator were to look at my Twitter profile to find out that I am hanging out at home alone?
Since discovering my Google results, I’ve tended to some much-needed “housekeeping”; I deleted a lot of the information in my About Me section on Facebook, as well as many of my so-called friends on there; I set my 20 Something Bloggers and Twitter profiles to private; I deleted my Myspace, and if this blog wasn’t my exercise in writing outside of school, I would delete it as well.
As far as the notion of society’s obsession with incessantly sharing gratuitous information with the world, I’m still unsure of a concrete answer for that one. But what I do know is that I, personally, am going to start being more conservative when it comes to what I post on my social networking sites from now on. Because if there’s going to be an uncomfortable amount of information about me floating around on the interwebs, then I am at least going to be in control of exactly how much I share and with whom.