Dumbth in Practice

I always find it interesting to read comments. They really illustrate the how people think… or don’t. I’m seeing this well illustrated in the uproar over in news about the Facebook Connect feature. People seemed to have turned off their critical thinking abilities—a problem that Steve Allen called dumbth in his book of the same name published in the 1990s. They are all worried that their private identities over on Livejournal will somehow become public and the world will end in some way, shape or form.

Here are my thoughts on the matter:

  • First and foremost, the FB Connect option isn’t enabled for checking in posts and comments if you don’t first enable it in your settings box. If you don’t check it there, and don’t provide it with your FB identity, it won’t be posting to Facebook. [Later note: Note, however, the commenters can cross post their comments to FB, if they have FB connect enabled.]
  • Locked posts remain that way: locked. The news post indicated that locked posts wouldn’t be cross-posted to Facebook, unless you choose to override that setting: “only your public LiveJournal posts (those marked as “Everyone”) will default to cross-post, but you can override this on a per-post basis beneath the text box” [Later note: An upcoming change will restrict the ability of commenters to propagate comments on locked posts.]
  • If something goes over to Facebook, it respects your privacy settings there. That means you can furthur restrict the visibility on that side.
  • With respect to posting of comments (something I find odd and funky): if the post is public anyway, who cares?. If it is a f-locked post, the cross-posting needs to be enabled manually… and if a friend did that (because only friends could read that post), I’d pull them off my friends list.
  • The whole notion of trying to hide your LJ existance is odd to me. You need to view an online existance as public these days, because someone will find you out. The false illusion of privacy is much more dangerous. [Later note: After having some discussion, I now understand why some folks do it. I still don’t believe it is ultimately effective, but at least I understand the “why”.]
  • There seems to be a concern about accidentally checking the cross-posting box. My feeling is that if you do that accidentally, you deserve what you get. You should always review all aspects of your post or comment before you commit to posting it—it should never be automatic.

Now, I’ll admit I’ve never been a fandom type. I’ve never been into slash fiction. I’ve never been into online role-playing. I’ve never had a life I’ve tried to hide. I’m what my profile says I am: a meek-mannered computer scientist with an interest in highways. There could be some concerns I just don’t get. But I certainly don’t see this as the end of the world as some do.