Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fascinating. And Creepy.

The night before last, Alex texted to ask about a picture of me.

"Which picture?" I asked.

"On FB," he said.

"But which one?"

"The one you just commented on."

When Facebook unveiled its new "instant feed" at the top of all of our home pages a couple of months back, there was much complaining and protest that this was an invasion of privacy.  Which, of course, it was.

I'm one of those people who is permanently "offline" on Facebook, but since the instant feed went live, there's no question as to when I am or am not online.  Every time I "like" a picture or post a comment or accept a friend request it's broadcast to my entire friends list.  And there is absolutely nothing I can do about it.

But as with all such Facebook changes, the protests died off quickly as people got used to having every move they made documented and announced...

...or was it maybe that we collectively decided that that was a price we were willing to pay as long as we were given the opportunity to spy on the online activity of other people in return?

What if we took it one step further?  What if there was a way to know not just what everyone's commented on, but who's been looking at your profile?  Would you be willing to trade that knowledge for revealing to other people those profiles you've been stalking?

We've all given up a lot of privacy for the privilege of watching other people's "likes" in real time, but personally, the thought of someone knowing I'd clicked over to their page for a quick read-through crosses a line.

About a month ago, I had what I thought was an epiphany about Facebook, and temporarily believed myself to be the bearer of useful stalking information.  But as I've observed my own activity and the activity of others over the past few weeks, I've realized that whatever I thought I was looking at has nothing on what's blatantly staring all of us in the face.

Strangely enough, the instant feed didn't bother me half as much when it was unveiled as it does now.  And that's not because of my own activity reports; it's because of the way I scroll through it and peep in on what everyone else is doing.  I'm uncomfortable with how fascinating I find it.

To be totally honest, I'm creeping myself out...


  1. "But as I've observed my own activity and the activity of others over the past few weeks, I've realized that whatever I thought I was looking at has nothing on what's blatantly staring all of us in the face."

    Is it? What is?? Im confused.... lol

  2. to be honest: since I don't use my real and full name on FB I'm only half way bothered with all they do about privacy settings or the lack of them for that matter.

    BUT if I were to use my passport name I'd run away from FB in the blink of an eye -.- I'm just too protective about myself on the internet (nevermind I even have blocked my xing account) ... and still I had a stalker - luckily only online but that still is a feeling I never wanna have again ... it is scary


  3. What is it with me and being cryptic lately?! It's like I can't write out what I'm actually saying about *anything*.

    Sam, I thought for a while there that I had a good idea of who was looking at whose profiles (and, in fact, I even said something about one of the pieces of the puzzle in a private message to you a while back), but after about a month of observing, I realized my theory didn't hold quite as much water as I thought it did. :-/

    And then I realized that all of my detective work was distracting me from the fact that the instant feed actually gives A LOT of information about whose profiles you're viewing, just based on public interaction alone. Anyway, it's possible I need a life...

    Sasha, I completely understand. It wasn't until my book was published that I started associating "Prophecy Girl" with "Becky Heineke." For a long time, you couldn't find much of anything about Becky on the internet. But then, by virtue of having something to market, I was kind of forced to open myself up.

    And to be honest, that may be why I'm so damned cryptic all the time! I'm always second-guessing myself, wondering who's really doing the reading...

  4. I *think* I know what you are talking about, it was the confusion we had a few days ago?

    When you figure out whos looking at your profile let me know, i like puzzles but its hot and im tired... lol

  5. ^^^ Haha, yes! That confusion was definitely part of it!

    I'll send you an e-mail about it when I get it more sorted in my head... :)