Facebook, Fear, and The Risky Devide


When you use Facebook to have fun and screw around with your friends, it’s easy, and you need not worry too much about it.

That’s a very comfortable and confined little world.

Breakdown the walls and then Facebook suddenly exposes you to so much more uncertainty.  Risk of embarrassment, employers looking through your information, people maliciously collecting your contact and identity information… Sure there are privacy options and practices to keep you safe, but at the same time there’s a good reason why you hear so much about all these risks in the news.  How many times have you heard in the past year the recommendation to have zero expectation of prvacy?

Suddenly your private little abode on the Internet you share with your college friends puts you into a big world of unknowns. There are some people who see this wide open space and capitalize on it.  They develop a personal brand, and extend their messages’ reach, they find opportunities for new business, etc…

Taking an idea from one of my favourite posts from Seth Godin‘s blog on boundaries; when some people are faced with openness they run and do great things, while other become intimidated and cower.  I use Facebook as the example because almost everyone I know at school is on Facebook, but only 1% of that group use it as a tool or have expanded to other social networks.

Is that a sign that some people want to keep Facebook as their personal and private space?  Afraid or reluctant to acknowledge it in the context of a bigger and potentially riskier ecosystem?

I know we in the social media sphere, even broadly, can’t imagine not using these tools to the fullest.  Maybe outsiders still are slow in seeing them as anything but a waste of time. To others though, losing that freedom of being able to post whatever it is that they feel like without having to worry about serious consequences might be something to avoid.

And never minding Facebook, considering it as only one part of a much larger ecosystem. With so many possibilities, if someone learned about all that was possible professional, they might feel a sense of responsibility to get into the game. Maybe it opens their eyes to too intimidating of a world.

As social media brings bigger possibilities, so does it also bring bigger risks.

Image by The Fayj via Flickr

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