Facebook vs privacy vs sharing norms vs public expectations

June 17, 2011 § 3 Comments

Pseudonym Smith June 17 at 5:53pm Report
Hi Ying,

I hope you had a good time at LOOK3. I have just seen that you have blocked me from seeing your wall and wondered why you have done that? Any particular reason?

Ying Ang June 18 at 2:21am

i am trying to figure out a way to manage my private life on facebook with a lot of people who i am intimate friends with and a lot of people who i don’t really know… i try to keep this balance also based on how much information other people share on their facebook so that the sharing is reciprocal and if we spend much time together in “real time”. it’s important for me as i happen to share A LOT of my personal life on facebook… and that is probably an understatement and kinda terrifying for me to open up to people who i have never broken bread with.

By the way, have we actually hung out before? i have terrible face memory and I cannot recognise you from your profile photo…

i hope you understand.
Look 3 was a great time 🙂


Pseudonym Smith June 18 at 2:29am Report
I completely understand that. Will you be offended if I delete you as a friend. It is just that personally, I want to be “all in” or “all out”. I am happy to be “all out” until our paths cross in a meaningful way, if you would prefer. Up to you entirely. But for me no half-way houses, all-out or all-in.

Ying Ang June 18 at 2:31am
of course, not…
we’re all trying to figure out our own rules in this virtual era.

I’m not ever sure how to tackle the beast of facebook sharing… it fluctuates and swings between a semi-open forum in which the murky area between private going-ons are intertwined with public consumption. I tend to ask myself questions like, do I know you well enough to show you my bedroom… and can I subject my friends to public viewings of their bedrooms. Where does trust play a part if it does at all. Would I recognise your face if I saw you in the street and would I feel comfortable knowing that you were familiar with intimate details of my life but I could barely recognise yours with your sunset stock image profile photos and obscure photos of pets?

Photography is a twisted wand that makes both a truth and fiction of my life. I am  the one to wield it, but control is still something that I’m learning in an unprecedented time of information dissemination. How entitled are strangers to a personal all-access pass to my life by the simple fact that I photograph and choose to mould some aspects of it as “art”?  

Show me your father, your mother, that vulnerable time before sleep, the soft space between you and your lover, the hard space when you fight and perhaps we can talk. Altman and Taylor speak of the Social Penetration Theory where the process of self-disclosure is reciprocal and gradual. It is the groundwork to building intimate relationships. I wonder if a virtual version of this exists and if so, have the norms changed… Is it a fiction to feel like you are at stage 4 (see steps below) when you have never even shared an embrace before?

Stages of Social Penetration

  • 1. Orientation stage. Here, we play safe with small talk and simple, harmless clichés like ‘Life’s like that’, following standards of social desirability and norms of appropriateness.
  • 2. Exploratory affective stage. We now start to reveal ourselves, expressing personal attitudes about moderate topics such as government and education. This may not be the whole truth as we are not yet comfortable to lay ourselves bare. We are still feeling our way forward. This is the stage of casual friendship, and many relationships do not go past this stage.
  • 3. Affective stage. Now we start to talk about private and personal matters. We may use personal idioms. Criticism and arguments may arise. In romantic-type relationships there may be intimate touching and kissing at this stage.
  • 4. Stable stage. The relationship now reaches a plateau in which personal things are shared and each can predict the emotional reactions of the other person.

Relationships can eventually reach:

  • Depenetration. When the relationship starts to break down and costs exceed benefits, then there is a withdrawal of disclosure which leads to termination of the relationship.

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§ 3 Responses to Facebook vs privacy vs sharing norms vs public expectations

  • bob black says:

    ooops, i posted this under the wrong post (sorry)…this post was meant for this entry …so don’t double publishe….

    Sister Y!….couldn’t agree more with you…:)))…!!.

    the all or nothing rant by that other cat, well, that’s the same kind of bite-bait of the coward….strength comes from decisions and character of perspective (being loving to those with whom you are most close and also protecting them when they don’t always have the same need/creed to keep it all open (my wife is very very private, and well, sometimes is shocked at how loose/open i am with my own life…but I respect and value her own needs to define her self)……

    facebook: …it’s tricky, as i’m increasingly disillusioned and exhuasted by F$#&!-book…but my life too has always been an open book, especially on the web…have shared so much (much to my wife’s dismay) about my life, my body, my friends….i’ve always worked the edges…that’s all we have, as Bolano writes, the edges is where the rings of light bind….but, also, it’s difficult because many who don’t know me either (especially in the Photoworld) make assumptions on web/blogs….to balance….anyway, for me, i totally am cool with not seeing your wall (i didn’t even realize that until i just read this and check!…see,i’m not always attentive to what happens ….until we break bread, or in my case, shall be wine, most likely…..be safe sister, and keep on givin!….hugs, b …p.s my hugs are real, ask Dom! 🙂 )

  • Amber Maitland says:

    Ying, I can’t believe someone said all or nothing! Wow!
    And Bob, what you were saying about being disillusioned and exhausted — me too. I really used to enjoy Facebook when it was about my friends, people that I know and want to keep up with even though we’re continents apart. Now I am getting constant friend requests by people who are using it solely as a marketing tool to update everyone on every flickr photo they ever posted. And the posts that I’m interested in are being buried under an avalanche of irrelevant fluff.
    I think a “friend cull” is in order shortly…

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