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Who are your real frenemies?

Letting someone into your social network means you’re letting them into your private life – and your head.

What do you do when your boss asks to become friends with you on Facebook?  Or your doctor?  Or your mother?

Chances are most of us have these folks sitting in limbo in the friend requests approval queue, while we twiddle our thumbs, trying to make up our minds.

But what about those pictures – you know which ones – that only friends should see?

What about bragging about the bad food you’ve been eating lately? And what about your real attitudes towards women, work, or God?

There is such a thing as too much information, but it’s slippery. Your friends might know your darkest secrets; you’d die in shame if a family member learned them.
 
Recently, one friend (who goes by the handle ‘Glittertrash’) asked, “So if I wanted to start using Twitter to get jobs, would it be a good idea to make a clean, professional, not-trashy profile? 

‘There is such a thing as too much information, but it’s slippery. Your friends might know your darkest secrets; you’d die in shame if a family member learned them’

“Because I could do that, but then I wouldn’t get to talk to any of you on it.” This sums up the dilemma perfectly. 

Few of us are all one thing, and none of us are perfect. We work and we play and we love and we fight – sometimes all at once. It isn’t easy to box ourselves in, to say this is professional and this is personal. 

Fifty years ago we could have managed it. Now, everything connects together everywhere all the time, and suddenly we get what it means to have no privacy.

This isn’t a permanent tragedy, more a fault of the tools than anything else. 

While Facebook makes it possible to segregate your friends, work, and life into different boxes, Twitter and LinkedIn blast everything you share out to everyone, everywhere. 

And, even Facebook isn’t that safe. A friend recently posted a link on Facebook to a job she’d just applied for. When I noted that her current employer was bound to find out, she responded that she’d ‘protected’ the link, sharing it among a tight circle of friends. That’s better than nothing, but it’s still a risk. 

Share something and it will wriggle out of its box, eventually.  No secret stays secret when it gets posted on the web.

After a lot of soul-searching, you bite the bullet and befriend this person on Facebook.  Then – surprise! – you find out they’re actually, seriously crazy.

I have friends who spew forth a continuous stream of posts about how the Bilderberg Group/Illuminati/space aliens secretly control the world (it’s a rotating chair); about how free energy from water has been suppressed by the evil oil companies; and – most disturbingly for me – how vaccines cause autism. Each of these theories can be disproved a thousand different ways, with varying degrees of effort, but why would you bother? 

Except when these theories are in your Facebook newsfeed, they’re in your head as well – and you do care, you do bother. 

You want to rescue your friends from The Stupid. 

That will only lead to an endless stream of arguments where each side tries to convince the other of The Truth. 

But really, the truth is that we’re all strange in our own ways.

The more we share, the more tolerant we must become. #

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