Thursday, August 13, 2009

Facebook as the new Party Line

I was talking to a parishioner last night as St. Paul's was hosting a middle school dance (don't ask) and we had to have some adult chaperons. We were chatting and this parishioner made an interesting comment to the affect that social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter were ways of being more communal in terms of personal information. This in itself was not earth shattering, but the parishioner went on to liken such internet sites to the old Party Line telephone systems.

For those people under 25 who have no idea what a Party Line is (other than maybe a Conga line dance), a party line was where a town would basically have one loop telephone line that everyone used. Basically, it was like a whole town sharing one line, which meant if one person in one house was calling another, anyone else in town that had a phone connected could listen in to the conversation. We tried explaining this to a middle school kid with little luck, as they had no frame of reference for a party line. Wikipedia explains it pretty well here.

I was taken by that juxtaposition because in a lot of ways, that is very true. Facebook comments and Tweets and all go out and can be read by anyone anywhere basically (depending on your security protocols.) Anyone can "listen in" and know your business anonymously.

New technology but old human nature.

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