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October 26, 2016
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Social networking: The good, the bad and the ugly

THE BAD: While perusing the scores of responses to my on-line poll, I wasn’t surprised to find some negatives. Buzzwords like procrastination, addiction, drama, objectionable, guilt, scary and evil all cropped up and the commentary stirred a lively “virtual” debate, as folks can not only respond to me, but to others who post their thoughts as well, continuing the swell that has far reaching effects.

Although this is an internet resource, feelings can still be hurt in the virtual world. A casual comment I made to a friend in New York City sparked a rather vehement response, not only from her, but her network as well, who weighed in without being asked. Facebook allows users to “unfriend” people on their networking lists and my pal did just that, cutting off all communication with me from that point on. I was mystified by her reaction (and since Facebook comments cannot convey inflection) felt that she had misunderstood my jovial sarcasm. But the damage had been done and we are no longer “friends” on Facebook. I was momentarily dismayed by this dramatic response, but chalked it up to a lesson learned.

Procrastination seems to be the number one complaint among users who are looking for an excuse to avoid getting work done, whether it’s doing the dishes, writing a term paper, or catching up on paying bills. The addictive nature of the social network also appears to be a real issue for those who succumb to the gaming and overload of entertaining links that can lead to hours of surfing the web.

Quote: C.M. from Hurleyville, NY writes that “It’s totally addictive and I’m starting to not like that.”

THE UGLY: You are not paranoid; Big Brother is watching you. Facebook (and others) employs hundreds of computer programmers whose sole job is to gather information. What we buy, where we go, how we spend our money and what we do for recreation are all valuable tips to pass on to the advertisers lining up for our business. Intuitive to a fault, this on-line invasion is not going away.

It took me a while to grasp the concept that individual marketing was in operation. I wondered why I was seeing ads for writing seminars, flying lessons and UFO conferences until I compared with my friends and discovered that their display ads were specifically targeted to their tastes.