Social Networking

Facebook and its peers have been vilified recently as a sort of antagonist of simple living and minimalism. Is this entirely accurate? I don't think that you are required to go without social networking to be minimalist, especially if there are people in your life you wish to keep up with. Facebook in particular can be a very easy way to see social information in a small span of time, and in some social circles, it can be more reliable than other forms of communication.

Of course, there is a negative to everything. Social networks exist to collect and sell your information. This is the cost of using these networks: you are agreeing to reduce your privacy. To combat this, you can do what I do: make everything on my profile so blindingly obvious or pointless that I don't care if it's not private. Remembering what should be public or private is a relatively simple endeavor, and there's some information I simply don't care about. Is it really a big secret that I like Radiohead?

In addition, the stream of social information can be overbearing. In my roughly daily use of Facebook, whenever I see a game, app or excessive post, I either eliminate the source or limit their posts to "important only," which gives me only what I really care about: my friends' pictures and posts. In addition, only adding the people you want to hear from on your Facebook is another way to reduce the rush from a raging waterfall into a pleasant - and useful - brook. I keep my connections low, around 50 to 100 people, and feign inactivity for the unwanted people who pester me into "friending" them (as snobbish as it sounds, not everybody can be important to me).

We must also keep in mind that Facebook won't be popular forever. As with every new technology concept, it will balloon and likely burst. Where will the winds blow next? Likely in a new iteration of social interaction. But none of these networks are inherently evil; they are just tools that we need to use properly. And they are generally useful tools, though how useful will matter more on the company you keep. Just like I wouldn't suggest eliminating your friends and social life in the quest for a more minimalist life, I won't suggest deleting the social networks without thinking through the situation.

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