When social networks first began to emerge, there appeared to be relatively clear distinctions between personal and business networks. For example, MySpace was considered to be a personal network and Xing (formerly OpenBC) was considered to be a business network.  There was actually some confusion with using the term social network, until that term became adopted to describe both business and personal networks.  Many people attempted to separate their personal social networks and their business social networks—some still attempt to do so.

As the popularity of social networks grew, the blur between personal and business social networks diminished.  Business associates on business social networks found colleagues on their respective individual personal social networks and vice versa and requested to connect. People began to connect with the same people on multiple networks.  Advice givers were quick to point out that reputations could be enhanced or damaged by virtue of using certain applications or posting certain things on specific networks. Employers and executive recruiters began to scour personal social networks for insights on clients and candidates. Parents monitored children. Some spouse and significant others monitored their loved ones.

The fun of purely social applications, such as dating applications or what is your flower-type applications began to be tainted by the need of many to ensure that he or she reflected purely business appropriate content. Older adults and business people began to participate on social networks such as Facebook, which had been traditionally the territory of the under 30 set.

More and more content on these social networks became accessible to non-members through search engines, such as Google, which collect information and organize it for retrieval. We have the possibility of controlling only part of the information which is collected on us depending upon the web site.  Individuals looking for us through a search engine can easily find us if we are a member of a social network such as LinkedIn™.

Now we know that where we participate and what we enter online is archived and often retrievable by others. Has that affected your decisions about

  • What social networks to join?
  • What groups or forums to join?
  • What applications to add on those social networks?
  • What postings or comments you make?
  • What RSS feeds you add?
  • With whom you connect?

Most people will admit that they do edit themselves with respect to those areas. The repercussions about being 100 percent authentic , i.e., joining, posting, and connecting can be insurmountable. It seems that there is a need for a social / personal network where people can feel free to be themselves without being judged and where others pledge to maintain confidentiality about what they read and observe and take no adverse action as a result of any information on that social network.  Dreaming about the impossible social network is fanciful.  The only privacy that one has now is what he or she chooses not to share, and sharing only certain information with certain people online is almost impossible. Being truly authentic has been lost in the rush to implement data gathering, data analysis, and data mining.

What is your buzz about?