Thursday, February 5, 2009

On the stalker-y nature of Facebook, Twitter and Social Media

Is it just me or does Facebook, Twitter and a lot of other similar sites make it seem easy for the stalker types to latch on to you?
A lot of this Social Networking stuff is scary. Yay, connect with bajillions of complete strangers!

I don't know you. You don't know me.
We're "friends" on Livejournal, or Facebook or "Following" on Twitter (sounds suspiciously like stalking to me) but do you know anything about me?

Yes, I do memes like every other worker bee out there. I could be totally making shit up. For all anyone knows I could be some freak-o psych-o stalker guy looking to show up on your doorstep ala The Guild (season one).

I'm torn between interest and revulsion. It's kind of like watching a train wreck.

Now as I've said in my profile and said to people online (of which every bit could be a patent lie) I'm an illustrator, and I work from home. It's a lonely job and I don't get the same human interaction with...humans that other folks do by working in place. Anyhow. Communicating with people online is appealing.

In addition, for my work I absolutely NEED to network with other people in my industry as well as related industries. Hell, for my work, ANY geek is a part of my industry or "My Industry IS Geekdom."

Geekdom these days also includes a lot of this social networking techie stuff. I get that.

The realization struck me (again) this morning as I'm blathering away about personal details on a public site to pretty much anyone with an internet connection...hey, this is kind of scary.

I little scary for me...should be damn scary for people who actually have followers. Celebrity-types (of one kind or another) with excess of tens of thousands of, that's kinda crazy. (Celebrity-types, IE...not me.)

Many of the people I connect with online, I fully intend to hang out with at conventions, do work with as collaborators, etc. In general these are people I can easily see myself raising a glass of expensive brew at GenCon or Comic-Con or a late night game of D&D at ODDcon. No problem. But I don't really KNOW these people do I? Some folks you really don't want to meet offline. (On that same note, some of the coolest folks I've met have started out as online friends, Thank you Deep Resonance, Bulldrek and eventually Dumpshock).

I hope people think twice about what they post online.
If you have kids, I hope you think twice before sharing info with strangers. We don't know who all is watching.

Is this paranoia setting in?


Jonathan said...

Embrace our new gods of the public eyes!!!

I recently landed a job at a major biotech company in my area (10 min. from my house)... and I wasn't even looking or "on the job market". How? I have a profile page where just about everything about me is present - and a recruiter/headhunter happened to search for the right keywords and my name popped up in his list. Fast forward 6 months and I'm now working for a great company doing what I love to do and my salary has pretty much doubled.

If I had been a protectionist with my "online identity" - this would have never happened.

Also.. there's this rpg blog anthology thing I'm working on... if it weren't for my open book policy on my identity I doubt I would be recieving as much help as I am on that project. People who I've never met (more than 20) are doing HOURS of work for the project as volunteers. This is another bit supporting evidence for the idea of "going public" with yourself.

Heck... i mean... google already knows everything about you. You might as well just go with the flow.

Jeff said...

Wow, that's amazing.

I can certainly see the benefits of "going public". I can also see lots of drawbacks too.

I certainly can't argue the benefits portion. They are what they are. No doubt.