Tag Archives: Facebook

Oh shit my dad says

It is undeniable that identity theft is a persistent problem that one could face these days if one uses the internet. Transactions made online almost always require some form of exchange of personal information. Granted that with the advent of technology, criminals, too, have evolved in terms of their modus operandi and have learned to use the internet to wreak havoc to innocent internet users’ lives. This makes one think: “Am I really safe anywhere?” Sadly, all signs seem to point to “No.” Crime is something that we have to painfully accept and live with. The constant dark shadow that it casts on society may be hard to avoid but the least that we can do now is know how not to get victimized. These low-lives may have gotten smarter, but we should be able to be a few steps ahead.

Better safe than sorry

Better safe than sorry

Recently my dad and I had this little chat regarding internet safety. It came as a surprise to me that he brought this up because I know that I’m very particular about my privacy, especially when it comes to cyberspace (read: my complex Facebook security settings). I’m aware of the risks involved when putting out personal information over the web for everyone to see, and that whenever the need to post arises, my moves are calculated so as any missteps can be avoided. My dad’s suggestions, albeit tinged with paranoia (you know how parents are) are actually quite helpful.

  1. Be a little fake. Many sign-up or registration forms on the internet ask people to supply information that is usually reserved for public (as in those registered in the government’s archives) documents. Knowing that the person on the receiving end of these info has the liberty of using these at his or her disposal, it is advisable not to divulge everything in excruciating detail. Perhaps one could provide a fake birthdate, address, or whathaveyou. Dad actually uses “Clark Kent” as his alias when he makes transactions. Now, I do not follow this tip myself but then again I can see where Dad is coming from. After all, he’s had several experiences where his identity was almost stolen… and none of thesemade use of the net. Just imagine if that happened. The possible consequences are endless.
  2. Hold off the vanity. Now, this is obviously a rule that I do not abide by. I think my 50+ photo albums on Facebook are a testament to this. I just don’t want to seem like a faceless creep. Dad uses this GIF photo of Sylvester the Cat with opening and closing eyelids as his display photo in social networking sites and forums. Since PR is my calling, I don’t think being secretive of your face would make people want to trust you. Anyway, if you insist on posting photos , make sure these are the kind that will haunt once they are unearthed several years from now. I’m pretty sure you had a blast chugging down a bottle of vodka and are proud of the supporting photos that you were tagged in to prove it, but in a few years time, it won’t be a laughing matter if someone tries to blackmail you with them.
  3. Use a dummy, dummy! Dad says it’s important to keep a couple or so email addresses for different uses. One should be used for official purposes while the rest can be for anything (i.e. online shopping, social networking, forums, porn, etc.). In Dad’s case, he has three: one for the office, one for personal correspondence, and one as a dummy account with “Clark Kent” as the registered owner of the account. I have at least ten emails but a majority of them I have lost their passwords to. Don’t tell my dad though.

Sure enough, Dad really knows his way around the internet as well as keeping his private information… well… private. And that’s how it’s supposed to be. I wish I could say the same for me. My life is such an open book that if it were an actual, tangible reading material, the spine would be nearly torn in half. But hey, I’m young, I’m smart, and I’m certainly not as dumb as my dad thinks… or maybe that’s my immortality complex talking. Whatever the case, if you wish to be safe, DO NOT FOLLOW MY EXAMPLE!


Social media geography

We all know how much new social media has pretty much changed the way how we view the world. Before its advent, everyone seemed so far away, so disconnected. We were all limited to our relatively small networks. “Networking” seemed to be something a privilege that only the truly personable (or those who work in Public Relations) enjoy. Ever since social networking sites (SNS) took flight, everyone was given the chance to connect with people and the best part was that it’s free.

During the early years leading to the social media boom of today, there weren’t a lot of things to do: just plain blogging and social networking per se. Nowadays you have a plethora of choices ranging from video-blogging to micro-blogging, from SNS catering to professionals to SNS catering to consenting adults (you know what I mean by this). There’s really something for everyone. Given that, competition between like web services only made the reach of social media even more vast. In effect, there’s more than one site offering the same kind of service.

The 2010 Social Networking Map

The 2010 Social Networking Map

Just like how the world today churned out superpowers like the USA and the UK, the digital realm also has website equivalents who lead the pack. But unlike the global political landscape, the number of users of a particular social media site is directly proportional to the power that it wields on society as a whole. In fact, if we were to create an alternate map of the world according to the number of users of such websites, we’d find Facebook as the most populated with Habbo and Twitter coming in second and third respectively. It’s also interesting to note that there are some sites which have somehow lost their power in maintaining their netizens within their borders (yes, exoduses do happen and is best exemplified by the emigration from Friendster and MySpace over to Facebook). We can also see from the map some sites which are slowly gaining some foothold in the global social media environment. It won’t be long when they will eventually surpass existing SNS giants. Who knows how long the golden age of Facebook will last. We, the netizens, dictate what’s hot and what’s not, after all.

It’s amazing how many people are already wired but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Not everyone has access to the internet and thus what this represents is only a fraction of the entire human population. Just imagine how much bigger these redefined continents would be should everyone pick their social media ponies. An interesting paradox, however, is that no matter how big those continents could get, the power of the internet can make it feel just the opposite.


Tumblr and then split (My case against excessive reblogging)

Each website has a unique way of obtaining its fair share of regular users and subscribers: be it through an innovative platform, a clever marketing strategy, or simply a fresh take on an old idea. We all know how Facebook suddenly took the Philippines by storm and in effect forced tech-savvy social butterflies (read: the middle class) to flee from the much maligned Friendster to migrate to their site. Most former users cite the overcrowding and the “lowering of standards” because of the prevalence of the so-called “jejemon” crowd. Facebook somehow gave the promise of an egalitarian society (free from outrageous custom HTML/CSS and a plethora of embedded YouTube videos and glitter graphics) that caters to those who believe that social networking should be done in a clean, streamlined, and user-friendly interface.

Lately it seems, that mass indeed followed class. Soon enough the everyone is jumping on the bandwagon, with the people whom the digital elite have ditched for Facebook slowly making their presence felt in the new “netizen” stronghold. And then came Tumblr. Tumblr was in many ways like Facebook except only a few people in the Philippines knew about. Once again, the upper classes came running to Tumblr, thinking “Sanctuary!” Whilst Facebook has yet to have its foundations crumble like Friendster and MySpace before it, Tumblr continues to be somewhat of an seemingly exclusive online community, despite the fact that it is very much open for all.

Why use Tumblr anyway? For one thing, Tumblr has the sharing features of Facebook (e.g. photos, links, videos, audio, etc.) minus the restrictive attitude it has regarding who can see what you post, much like unprotected Tweets are on Twitter. It is, for the most part, a great marriage between the two other sites I’ve mentioned but is actually a blog host site. Like Twitter, you can easily follow anyone you think is interesting enough so you can keep up with them. It takes away the awkwardness of having to ask permission to be someone’s friend, as with Facebook. Since it is a blogging platform in the first place, it is much like WordPress and Blogger in the sense that you can post whatever you want, when you want. In sum, Tumblr makes use of each website mentioned’s individual strength and condensing it into one.

An example of some people's cynical attitude towards the typical Tumblr post and aesthetic.

An example of some people's cynical attitude towards the typical Tumblr post and aesthetic

But if it’s all good, then why am I even writing this entry? As an old-school blogger, it somehow disappoints me that Tumblr is just being used to rehash other people’s general statements instead of actually bothering to write an actual entry on it. Since it is immensely popular nowadays in the country (which, I may add, has a relatively poor educational system), more Filipinos are opting for the easy way to blog. It basically has little or no effort required to convey an idea. One simply reblogs and reblogs without actually divulging anything substantial from their life experiences, which of course is the very core purpose of a blog. I, for one, believe that any blog, micro or not, should be an avenue wherein people can practice their communication skills. Tumblr, I think, is a fad that cultivates the disease of laziness that was inherited by Filipinos.

I really have nothing against people who use Tumblr but for those who just join for the sake of reblogging everything that they see, it really bothers me. It has somehow become a popularity contest wherein people share information not because they want other people to see it, but for them to be credited and be followed. I feel that if one has to reblog, one must also provide some insight as to why he or she decided to reblog it. I must admit that it is somewhat hypocritical of me because I am sometimes guilty of being an active over-sharer of things I find interesting but there should be some substance to the person behind all the things that he or she shares. I understand completely that not everyone will agree with me but I simply want blogs to be like blogs again. It’s either that or consider Tumblr as an altogether different kind of service. The whole concept of a blog is somehow lost since what one re-blogs is not necessarily one’s own thoughts but the thoughts (or photo representing said thought) of another person.

I must confess that it is hard to rationalize my jaded attitude towards Tumblr and put it into words. Maybe it is because of my preference for “traditional” blogging (which is based more on writing) or maybe it is because I haven’t tried it yet. Who knows? I might try it later on so I can finally put to rest my dissonant cognitions regarding this issue. However, probably by the time that I do decide to register an account, everyone else might have already tumbled and split to a new social networking site.


Fashion goes digital

If there’s something that I’m very thankful to the internet, it’s for fueling my interests to a fever pitch. As anyone with eyes could deduce, I’m quite the fashion enthusiast. I (or Bill Gates, rather) have mentioned in my earlier post that the internet has made the world smaller for us and thus making people with shared interests feel close together. Before the internet became mainstream, the fashion industry was something that only people in its inner sanctum enjoyed. It was an interest that was limited to people who can easily access the world of glitz and glamor (read: rich). What the internet did was somehow democratize fashion and opened its usually locked backstage doors to a broader style-savvy audience.

The early 2000s was the transitional period wherein fashion slowly made itself more accessible to the public. Among the pioneers of digitalizing the industry, I believe, is Style.com. Style.com, launched in September of 2000, was the springboard of this fashion revolution. It is essentially an extension of Vogue magazine’s editorial authority, providing an all-around experience of the industry through news, trend reports,  and extensive runway coverage; this time in a digital format. The site would later on branch out in 2005 to now-defunct Men.Style.com (merged with GQ.com) in an attempt to appeal to the male demographic. Similar sites followed, like Elle.com and Fashionista.com for instance, with the same promise of a peek into the world of La Mode. However, it was only until October 2008 that a Philippine-based website of the same format was launched. Like its predecessors, StyleBible.ph aims to give women (and certainly some men) a site that caters to their sartorial needs.

Style.com

Style.com

GQ.com (formerly Men.Style.com)

GQ.com (formerly Men.Style.com)

With this newfound accessibility to all things fashion, enthusiasts are now given the chance to be insiders. With the internet being an avenue for free hosting of social commentary, fashion forums and fashion blogging soon became popular. In line with this, online communities dedicated to dressing well (read: LOOKBOOK.nu and The Fashion Spot) flourished. Blogs like The Fashionisto, Fashion Gone Rogue, Design Scene, Fashionologie, and Coutorture too became the go-to sites for more industry scoop. Aside from these, street style blogging (scouting and photographing “fashionable” people out and about in public) also took flight. Sites like Face HunterStreet Etiquette, and The Sartorialist give a different perspective of fashion, showing that everyday people can pull off great style.

What’s great about this sudden boom of fashion-related websites is that the typical fashionista’s desire to know more about trends and how the industry works is somehow satisfied. It also exposes him or her to the wide world of opportunities within the microcosm that is fashion. It is not unusual nowadays for ordinary people to somehow interact with industry members and insiders, primarily because of Twitter as well as Facebook.

TheFashionSpot.com

TheFashionSpot.com

TheFashionisto.com

TheFashionisto.com

Certainly, the playing field has been spread out evenly. As I’ve said, the web certainly made fashion more democratic. Anyone who has a blog can easily be part of the posse. It seems every detail of the industry (from the designers, models, publications, photographers, etc.) has at least one site that is dedicated to it. Of course, this isn’t limited to just blogs; YouTube is quickly becoming a suitable platform in which the fashion-conscious can share their interests (I will go further into detail with that aspect soon in another entry). With the internet it seems, fashion goes beyond the realm of plain aspiration; to some, living the dream just became a whole lot easier.


Google is your best friend

It really comes as no surprise that a lot of people would agree (most of them students) that the internet is one of man’s greatest inventions.  Why wouldn’t it be? It practically has everything one needs to know. And with just a click of a mouse, you are able to access so much information in so little time. Who would’ve thought that something that started out as the US government’s way of sharing information within its own network blew up to something of a cultural phenomenon that is not limited to just its 50 states.

The way the internet has made life easier for most people means that all other resources for information are becoming obsolete. During the first half of the 20th Century, print and radio communication was the primary media sources. Later on, television replaced radio and now the internet is replacing television. And even more amazing is that the innovation process has only just begun. As Bill Gates mentioned in his essay Shaping the Internet Age, the internet is just in the infancy stage. There is so much that the internet has revolutionized (particularly in the field of communications) and has yet to make so. Just how big is the impact of the internet? This video that I found not so long ago showed the numbers that back up the internet’s influence over us.

Gates stressed a number of reasons behind its tremendous impact on the world, namely: making the world smaller, bringing people closer together, and making the world simpler. I would have to agree on all points, particularly the third. It seems as if an internet connection is the single most important thing to have these days if you want to survive in this era. In all honesty, I could do without television (YouTube), radio (Last.fm), or newspapers (Yahoo! News) as long as I have a desktop or laptop on hand and a router. I can’t tell you how much I get really pissed off when my internet service provider gets a glitch. The internet’s promise of having something to look forward to every time I open my browser makes it such a necessity. The fact that I am able to learn via the internet makes the Php999-a-month subscription fee to BayanDSL worthwhile.

However, not everything is all fine and dandy about the internet. It is the proverbial double-edged sword. It may have had a huge role in making everything a whole lot easier for us, but it’s that very reason that makes it potentially harmful (especially when we talk about privacy). Some people have the internet to thank for for the current success that they are enjoying (read: Justin Bieber) but it is also the same thing to blame for ruining them (basically anyone who’s had a sex tape or any incriminating document that has been passed around the web). Virtually anything that goes viral on the web has the potential to destroy one’s reputation. Cyber-bullying is also a problem and has led some people to commit suicide. Just imagine if Hitler had access to the internet during World War II and had Twitter account! Tsk tsk.

And of course there’s always the issue of intellectual property. It has, for the most part, almost killed the music industry (and to a certain extent, the film and television industries) for being the medium people use for downloading mp3s and videos. Also, it has served as the lazy student’s go-to “person.” Wikipedia is helpful and all but some push the envelope by copying and pasting whatever it is that is posted there and submits it as homework. What bothers me more is that some take pride in the Ctrl+C+Ctrl+V+Ctrl+S activity (yes, there’s a fan page on Facebook). It has led people to say that Google is your best friend because you can look up almost anything with it, and you’re bound to find it at one point or another.

Certainly, I could go on and on with the numerous pros and cons of the internet but that would be reiterating everything that Gates has mentioned in his essay. I have to give it to him for being very meticulous with the points that he raised. Surely enough there are a whole bunch of bloggers out there who have said these as well. For now, however, the challenge for us users (and occasionally abusers) of the internet is to be more responsible and a lot more careful. The least we can do now is use the power of the internet for good (particularly with bridging the gap between the “digital divide”) than use it for our own selfish needs.