Saturday, April 08, 2006


And, as promised, the scintillating and witty post about MySpace Bulletins.

OK. So, first, we all know that whatever we write about online is public knowledge, right? I mean, yes, there are some boards and some emails that can't be hacked by just anyone, and most of us can't hack anything anyway, and frankly I'm not even sure if "hacking" is even the current term anymore. But the point is, we should all be aware that if we put it out there into cyberspace, anybody and their dog, Eric, can read it. And probably will.

And second, we know that MySpace and Facebook and other such sites sell information about their users to various buyers, including the DoD (and, I suspect, various college alumni organizations, because they have an uncanny ability to track one down).

So, why in the name of all that is holy would people put up their name, school at which they are currently studying, state of residence, picture - and then post about which illegal drugs they've done? I'm not saying that past or even current drug use should be a secret. I'm just asking - do you really want the government, your future employer, or, for that matter, your parents and Grandma Ethel to have access to this information?

On a somewhat related note, I've noticed that the bulletins at MySpace are, shall we say...fairly sleazy. For those who have better things to do with their time than hang out on MySpace, a bulletin is a post that you send to all your "friends" at once. (Your friends are the people whose pictures appear on your page, and on whose pages your own picture appears.) These bulletins are frequently memes, and they generally ask questions about sexual experience, drug experience, etc. (Only, it must be said, they don't ask very interesting questions about same. More like - "hee, hee, have you ever gone skinny dipping?!" - which I guess must not be a common experience or it wouldn't show up as a question.) The idea, I think, is to be just a little titillating without actually saying anything real. (But, to their credit, the posters who've sent me bulletins have usually done a pretty good job of keeping these silly little surveys real.)

And this leads me back to the vacuous nature of the whole MySpace enterprise in the first place. But that won't stop me from firing off my own bulletins.

And yes, I have gone skinny dipping, perhaps most notably in someone else's pool. (By "someone else," I mean some total stranger whose backyard we snuck into and who happened to have a pool.) And you know that movie where one guy goes running off wearing only a strategically placed sock? That's pretty much what happened (to a friend of mine, not to me, which made it hilarious).


ken said...

I have only explored facebook and so to explore one must have account--which I do. No picture though. Initially this was a great way to match my students' faces with the names on my roster. (I now have access to the lists that come with pictures which is quite convenient.) First, I was amazed at what they post. And second, they were amazed that "teachers" looked at them. I know they know that other people can see this stuff (they talk about facebook stalkers) but they think it is only people their age. I haven't announced to my classes this semester that I am on facebook. I saw multiple pics of one kid in his underwear--tighty whities--not boxers. And most shocking was a female student who has pics of her, her girlfriend and various other friends smoking pot. Pictures!! Sure, sure, I was no saint either--but I try not to provide physical evidence of any illegal activities. I am torn about whether to let it go, make a general nag-like warning to everyone, or confront her individually.

plain(s)feminist said...

Actually - it seems like a great "teaching moment" - not so much for your class(es) with this particular student, but in general. For example (oh, let's say, Gender Studies or Composition class): Imagine you are an employer. Look up your classmates on Facebook and write an essay about which students you could - legally - decide not to hire and for what activities.

Or is that too humiliating, maybe? (Honest question.)

Thanks for the link, btw!