Socialising, sharing information, stalking: everybody has different views and experiences of social networking. Here’s one student’s reflections on Facebook.
“I’ve been on Facebook for about two years, and I’ve got 44 friends. I’m quite picky about who I accept. Mostly people I know in real life, but also friends of friends.
I used to put quite personal stuff on there, but recently I’ve not been doing that so much. I just began to realise how stuff I put online is going to stay there, and people can access it quite easily. You’ve really got to think about it – whereas before I used to put quite random stuff on there. I put a few status updates, that kind of thing, but not very much.
I got stalked on Facebook in my first year – I went out and did this Piracy Night thing, and someone took pictures and posted them, and then I got this message saying ‘I’ve got this fetish about pirates’, which was quite terrifying. I did meet the person, and she was ok. But it did make me a bit scared!
Music is my main social interest. But I’ve also been using it to chat with people on my course, and I do use it to arrange to meet up with other philosophers – film viewings and things like that. At one point I was using Live Journal to have philosophical discussions, but now I’d rather do that face-to-face. It’s easier to chat to someone and discuss things face-to-face than it is to type stuff out.
I don’t think I’d find myself recording thoughts in that way onto a social networking site. Sometimes if you’re in emotional turmoil you might post something on Facebook, and then really regret it later. Which is why I’ve felt like there’s been stuff I need to delete and remove.
When you’re on the Internet, in some respects I think you act exactly the same as you would in real life. I think the more you use it, the more you normalise your behaviour on it and moderate yourself. It makes socialising easier, and expressing yourself easier, but it also allows you to have that comfort zone around you.
I think if an employer was sensible and objective, they would make a judgement on me through my work, and on stuff I’d type on Live Journal. If they are digging into your private life so they can give you a job, then the job’s not worth it. I don’t have much fear of a company looking at my social networking profile because there’s nothing really there that’s going to incriminate me – and if I have ever put anything up like that, I’ve then deleted it.
A lot of the problem with Facebook is that there is content that might be associated with you that you can’t delete. If someone else is putting stuff up, then you can’t get rid of it. But if it gets to the stage where employers, or people in general, are looking at what’s on Facebook and judging you for it, then society’s gone off it’s rocker!”