Social Integration Is Ugly

I hope that you’re looking at the headline image and thinking “That is butt-screamin-ugly.” Just think though, that is probably nothing compared to amount of social icons you saw before lunch.

I liken social icons to chickenpox. They are merely the symptom of the affliction of social integration. Common affected areas include the header, the footer, side panels, before a story, after a story, on billboards, in restaurants, commercials, magazines and your perception. First, I can’t emphasize enough that any of these icons are the last thing a designer wants to add to something of beauty. I do admit their purpose and usefulness, but I will play Devil’s Advocate. Starting now.

While you go on with your day and when you’re not checking your facebook or your other popular social sites, companies are gathering your information. When you “like” or “plus” a page or company or musician they then have access to that information through an API offered to registered developers. Do you think these sites make money just from you clicking on an ad? HA! User data is not only harnessed to offer you a better experience but also to make the experiences in making you offers better. In other words, they want to keep selling you more *@#?!

When you “like” a comment or a photo, take a moment and think of how useful that is for you. Can you easily go back and see all those comments and photos you clicked that thumbs up for? No. You as the user are the one made to work for that information, loading every old post on your wall and revealing every related post. So while you play farmville, databases are gobbling up user information to be digested through queries and displayed as graphs and charts to analysts, eventually to become an ad. The backlash is all around: Eyesores others call social icons and your data being flung around like your mother when you were conceived.

However, I also revel in the fact that social interactions online have helped us become more connected as people like never possible before with BBS‘s, the plain Internet, livejournal, friendster, myspace, the list goes on as long as this sentence. I’ve read stories of people recovering photos from floods and sharing them to be able to send them back to their owner. People have found family because of having that chance to connect online. It’s amazing to think that we can be connected through a few keystrokes and clicks. That’s the experience we share and can’t see, unlike the natty-ass blobs of uncomplimentary colors.

So while you go on being social online, keep in mind that what you share is never truly private. If you entered the data or participated in sharing your data, it’s stored in a database and someone has the user rights to get to that information and use it for whatever purpose; Be it a drunk photo from last night or where you used to work.

Be aware of what you share.

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