The antisocial network

Andy Sherwood is getting more than he bargained for on Facebook and Twitter

The Knowledge

Just how well do you know your friends and family? More importantly, how well do you really want to know them? Because I’m starting to feel like I know some folk a little too well – and it’s all thanks to social networking.

I’m not a big tweeter or poster.

I don’t ‘like’ many things. In fact, I mainly use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to gather information: to keep up to date with sports news and movie trailers, see photos of my friends’ kids, smile at family news from back home, or laugh at funny videos of dalmation dogs riding bicycles (well worth a Google search, that one).

But I’ve noticed more and more that people are using these mediums to tell their life stories – and they’re revealing way too much information that surely should be kept private.

It started when I moved to the UAE and joined several Facebook groups in a bid to learn more about the country.

I quickly noticed people would post about pretty much any old subject. Everything was up for debate, from married couples’ arguments to dodgy ailments and gruesome illnesses. These are subjects people should not be telling the outside world about.

Then I noticed some of my friends had started doing it. Subjects I’ve seen recently include divorce, depression, cuddles (pass the sick bag), and what granola they’ve had for breakfast.

I appreciate I might sound like a moaning old minnie. And I would be the first to admit that social networking is a brilliant phenomenon that has changed the way we digest modern culture (and it’s kept me in touch with so many friends since moving here). But I don’t need, or want, to know everything – and it’s time people started paying more attention to what they reveal online, because it’s a recipe for disaster.

Take two social networking stories which have made headlines this year. First there was PR director Justine Sacco, who lost her high-powered job after tweeting about AIDs before getting on a flight to South Africa.

She had her own hashtag (#HasJustineLandedYet) while 30,000ft in the air and had effectively lost her job by the time she’d arrived. Then there’s Anton Casey, the British fund manager who mocked the ‘poor people’ of Singapore on Facebook.

He was sacked and left his home in the South-East Asian country for Australia.

I’ve not seen anything that bad on my newsfeeds so far, but I have a plea for the people of the UAE (and beyond): please stop telling me about your breakfast, or that your husband is rubbish and won’t help change your baby’s nappies. And I really don’t want to see you calling your partner by their pet name. Remember, schmukums, you are what you tweet.

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