Media, culture, and politics from an aesthetic-materialist's perspective.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ethics of Facebook

Reihan Salam's article on Slate, "The Facebook Commandments," offers up a mirthful helping of social networking dos and don'ts.

On declining an unwanted friend request:
"Assuming there will be no social fallout, just ignore it. They probably won't notice, particularly if we're dealing with a promiscuous friender. (You know, the kind of person who thinks, 'I need to break 700 friends so I can rid myself of my crippling sense of shame.' Trust me, it won't work.)"

On discreet de-friending:
"[W]hat if your so-called friend scans through their friend list and notices that you've gone missing? First off, anyone who is policing their Facebook account this rigorously is morbidly obsessed and thus best kept at arm's length. If she confronts you about it, the best strategy is to plead ignorance: Perhaps the site's massive growth has led to some unexpected technical difficulties? Re-friend, then wait at least six months before trying another de-friending."

On having the right number of friends:
"While college kids can get away with huge numbers of friends, the geezers among us should be a little more selective. And by 'geezers,' I mean everyone born before Ronald Reagan's first inauguration. A group of 150 Facebook friends, right around Dunbar's maximum network size, will let you feel comfortable about broadcasting your status, whether it's 'Reihan Salam is triumphantly pumping his fists' or 'Reihan Salam is slowly dying of dengue fever.'"

In a related story, the BBC reports on the massive amount of time wasted on Facebook by office employees. Apparently, 233 million hours are lost each month in the UK thanks to online social networking. Note, of course, that the study from which this figure is cited was conducted by one Peninsula, an "employment law firm." Wonder who they're representing.

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