Who’s your friend?

Facebook is a very strange thing. It has taken the word “friend” and made it mean things that it never meant before. Or possibly it meant these things to other people before, and I wasn’t aware of it. Any term that encompasses my boss, my mother, my wife, that guy I went to high school with and can’t quite remember, and some random stranger I met at a conference 12 years ago … well, it’s not very specific.

And now that my daughter is 13 and has a Facebook account, we’ve talked with her about how she defines friend, and the simple fact that she’d say some things to her friends – you know, her real friends – that she wouldn’t say to us. This leads to a need to carefully choose her “friends”, and carefully choose what she says.

When we were kids, they’d say “this will go on your permanent record”, and it meant exactly nothing. Today it means something. Everyone from future employers to your priest to your school teachers to that person that’s thinking of asking you out to dinner, will have access to whatever you choose to post on Facebook.

Anything you say can and will be used against you.

And, sure, we all know this, but it’s obvious from sites like Failbook that an awful lot of people don’t really think that it applies to them.