I am a bit cautious as to what I put online. People are CRAZY. I know; I've met them. On places such as facebook and myspace, I've got my profile selected so that only my "friends" (and I say that term loosely as for some reason I've got people on there I don't especially care for -- I'll get to that in a second) can see my profile, and even THEN I'm careful as to what I put out there. Once it's online, it's there. Just ask the girl who had to go into hiding for putting a racial slur inher facebook status. Yeah. You bet she regrets that now.
Anyway, I'm getting off the subject, as usual. I also do the whole instant messaging thing so I can IM Superman during the day. It's handy, and I love it. However, I am not as good with using it as I am other things. For instance, when someone contacted me today saying I was on his friends list and he was wondering why (i.e., who am I), it didn't automatically click that I CAN'T be on his friends list -- because he's not on mine.
I asked him who he was, and he said he was "Jake" and lived around a nearby area. Well, I know one Jake. And he happens to be from that place. So, thinking (and hoping) that this was the Jake I knew, I gave my first name. My REAL first name. "Jake"'s response?
"Cool. What did you major in?"
Uh....the Jake I know would ABSOLUTELY know this answer. As I politely tried to end the conversation ("My boss came in. I have to go. Bye." To which he responded, "Ok. Talk later?" I didn't answer. Maybe he'll take the hint.), I couldn't help but think, "GEEZ!! I'm sorry, but I don't MAKE virtual friends."
And then I realized how untrue that statement was.
As I follow people in this little bloggy world, I've started getting to know you all and praying for you as you struggle with different things: adoption, getting married, getting through the holidays, visiting your children...but then I realized the difference between y'all and "Jake": "Jake" is a name, a faceless person who I know nothing about. I read your posts and see your love for God and your desires to be Proverbs 31 women. True, the wool could still be pulled over my eyes, but I feel a little more connected with y'all than I do with "Jake" (who will be blocked as soon as I can figure it out).
Our world has become a virtual society, but what are the limits? We've all seen the Dateline shows of what can happen to people, good and bad, through use of the Internet and chatting with online buddies. But what about for the people we know? What about those people who ask to be your "friend" -- and you're not keen on them finding you? ;)
I've blocked more than one person online in order for my profile picture not to even show up in a search. And I use my married name instead of my maiden name -- those people who do not know my married name are people I probably am not interested in reconnecting with. Oh, and for people who want to be my friend and then don't speak when they see me in public? There's always that handy "delete" button (which has been used on more than one occasion).
But what about those people who you really don't care for but ask to be your friend? The ones that you see regularly? Is it okay to not add them or to delete them?
Is there a "polite" way to tell someone, "Hey, we're not really pals, and I don't want to be your online friend"?
I have gone through random "delete fests" because, well, frankly, I don't have 493 friends, as facebook claims. I'm not that popular. I didn't invite 493 people to my WEDDING. But I've actually seen people bragging about how many "friends" they have on facebook. And I want to say, "Really? Really? You have 12,038 friends?" That sure is a lot of Christmas cards to send out. Unless you do it electronically. Then it's probably easy.
When you blog, you bare your writing to the world. You allow people to see a piece of you -- whatever piece you want. One of the reasons I like my little anonymous blog so much is the freedom it gives me. I do have a few "real life" friends on here and others who read this blog, but they know me well enough to know that this is pretty much the "real" me. ;)
So what is the verdict in this virtual friendship war? On Santa's list, what would be found "naughty" and what would be found "nice"?
Blogging -- naughty/nice
Facebook/myspace -- naughty/nice
Instant messaging -- naughty/nice