Hypocrisy is a wonderful thing, and thanks to the medium of social networking, it is a much easier thing to achieve. Every time Facebook chisels away at the privacy settings of the least private private network in the world, or Google adds another prohibitively anti privacy line to its terms and conditions, I do the little shudder that will be familiar to most users of the internet, then I open my Gmail anyway and post a YouTube clip to Facebook. I might also grumpily link to an article on some well meaning blog bemoaning the gradual slide into the dystopian future we are all party to, or grumble on Twitter a bit. Maybe sign a petition. Down with this sort of thing.
But, having bemoaned my personal information going to places not of my choosing I them completely undercut my own indignation by taking all of my information and spitting it at the internet like an excitable toddler might a particularly tasty pudding. Not only do I have not one but two blogs dedicated to churning my every waking thought into something vaguely readable, and I’ve spent the last three years on Twitter, where I have posted a quite alarming 12,000 tweets, most of which were probably revealing of myself either in their tedium or otherwise. I joined Last.fm, which takes note of every single song I listen to and turns them into spiffy charts, which it then spews out onto Twitter, as though anyone has the remotest interest in what the three bands I most listened to were over a seven day period. () I’m not alone in doing this, and I actually love to look at other people’s charts and compare their ‘musical compatibility’ with my own, even though it often leaves me feeling oddly voyeuristic even though they too have blurted their own taste out to the world, just like me.
It doesn’t stop their either. About six months back I joined a service called Miso, which you can use to log every single thing you watch and leave a little comment. It also then asks you if you would like to post it just to your friends on Miso, or your Twitter feed, or Facebook, or all three. It then gives you points based on who you tell. I gave up using it for a while based on the fact that I found it a step too far, but then I decided it would be a good idea at the beginning of the year to see just how many films I watch in a year. Because, well, why not. It’s the sort of thing someone as geekily anal retentive as myself might want to know at the end of the year. ‘Oh look Ethel this year I have watched 174 films, wasting an average of 350 hours of my life, roughly meaning I could have spend an entire fortnight doing something more productive. Isn’t that interesting? Ethel?’
But then I instantly fell back into the trap of broadcasting my every episode of Sherlock, or Desperate Housewives, or Coppers, blurting to the world like some kind of broken foghorn, spluttering meaningless titles at the void and hoping people will look at my viewing habits and somehow decide that I am so utterly and comprehensively amazing that they should give me a research grant. Or a medal of some kind. Quite disappointingly, it turns out that in the whole of January so far, I’ve only watched 6 films as well. Gutted.
Then, yesterday, this happened:
I need more! More ways to rivet you all with my every move. Well actually, I thought it would also be interesting to see how many books I actually manage to read in a year, but nonetheless, this needs to stop! Well actually, more than one person pointed me in the direction of GoodReads.com, and having signed up and listed my first books of the year maybe I won’t stop, thank you very much. And I love my last.fm, it listens to me far more than most human beings do and has a lovely recommendations page that isn’t a ‘You like metal?’ Have you heard of Metallica?’ exercise in obviousness. Every month I take heed of its recommendations and find at least two or three new bands that turn out to be pretty good. Also, my charts are too in depth, too complex, too massive to abandon now.
So if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook and find my constant need to transmit objectionable then I apologise. But not all that much. Your choice. I’m not going to change. Next month I’ll probably find something that broadcasts my every idle thought and I’ll sign up for that too, and link it to my Facebook feed and my Tumblr, just for kicks. But the next time you see me crying over privacy settings on the internet, please do give me a virtual punch on the ear, and tell me to stop being an idiot. I’ve lost all right to do that.