To be social or not to be social? That is the question.

I get asked a lot about my social media habits being in the Information Security field.  Generally, they revolve around security and privacy and what I do to keep things protected in a world that seemingly gets hacked all the time.  I see social media as more of a bother than something useful, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a Facebook or LinkedIn account.  I’ve even given Google+ and Twitter a spin just to realize they were a tremendous waste of time.  Being the private person that I am, social media presents a complicated problem that after several years still is not completely understood.

Facebook

Everyone knows what it is.  Even my Mom has a Facebook [FB] account.  No, I’m not friends with my Mom.  Before you tell me that isn’t a nice thing to do, let me explain first.  I see Facebook as an extension of my circle of personal friends (more acquaintances) only in a digital form.  There isn’t a single person on my friends list that I have not at least got to

Yes, its a real phone!

Yes, its a real phone!

know in person first.  I’ve had a FB account for almost 8 years and only have 89 friends to my name.  I don’t see family fitting into my social life much in the way that you don’t take your Mom or sibling on a date with your wife.  Therefore, I don’t have any family members listed in my friends listing.  I use email and this old school concept called “talking on the phone” because texting infuriates me (that’s another post topic for another day).

FB, for its intent and purpose, is a good model for sharing with people that you normally wouldn’t have contact with except on rare occasions.  One of my friends from high school lives in California and I haven’t seen him in person for about 5 years, but we stay in regular contact via FB.  The problem with FB, especially for younger people, is that it allows a pervasive anti-social behavior pattern to develop.  I’m sure you’ve seen the family out to dinner at a local diner, all with their phones in front of their faces, not talking to each other.  Further observation reveals that the children of the group are in fact texting each other while sitting next to each other.  Personally I see this as disturbing and an ominous trend of the current generation not being able to socialize without an electronic device.

LinkedIn

I call this service the Facebook for Business [FBB] as it is catered to the business person to socialize and advertise themselves online to prospective employers and colleagues.  FBB is actually quite useful for my purposes as it provides the work-personal segregation that I fiercely support.  In fact, I would not be moving into a new job on Oct 1st if it weren’t for FBB as the recruiter found my profile and solicited me for the position.

I’ve supported people getting onto LinkedIn countless times in the past several years as I see its value clearly.  The more you detail your work history, obtain recommendations and advertise your accomplishments the easier it is for potential employers and recruiters to find your profile.  FBB requires a finesse to achieve a balance between base and high level detail so that you’re standing out in the crowd.  The fact there isn’t a ridiculous reliance on the social aspect FBB doesn’t have the same issues that FB has.

Social Balance

At the end of the day, you’re going to use social media so that it fits into your life style.  My life style doesn’t support FB, but does support FBB.  Others would see FBB as a waste of time and just another social media account to cultivate and keep up to date.  My use of FB is out of the necessity of keeping in touch with people that hold value in my life; it is NOT a replacement for physical socialization with family and local friends.  I find it to be a necessary evil that I utilize sparingly.  FBB on the other hand, is something that I log onto every day, tweak consistently and ensure is as precise as possible.  For every 9 solicitations from “linked in sharks” there is 1 solid lead that actually pans out to a real offer.  In my case, I was given that real offer.

Tread lightly into social media as it is the largest human experiment in history where no one knows anything about the conclusion.

2 thoughts on “To be social or not to be social? That is the question.

  1. My life style doesn’t support FB, but does support FBB.
    This exactly sums up my feelings! I don’t work directly in InfoSec, but do work with software contracts and thus am concerned with some things my friends find silly… particularly in light of how much I choose to share on my blog! I disabled my FB account a year and a half ago (before fully deleting it a few months back) because of a mix of concern for its privacy policies and how people interact there. No, thanks! FBB isn’t quite as invasive, and allows me to keep in touch with folks in a friendly, upbeat way.

    • I’ve been kicking around deleting my FB account for several months. My profile is locked down and I don’t allow searches by name anymore, but I’m not sure that is enough. Being a huge advocate for privacy, I see FB as an avenue for exploitation.

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