I’ve got a real love/hate thing going with Facebook right now. It’s great that the system really facilitates finding people you’ve lost contact with. It’s amazing. After I signed up, I found three people I’ve thought about lately, and that was on the first evening. It’s pretty cool.
But, and you knew there would be a ‘but,’ didn’t you? But, it shares some of the same advantages and disadvantages as living with someone. I’m thinking about how it’s great to talk and have company, but at other times, people can bug you, whether having no idea of the result, or by doing something stupid.
Let me tackle unintentional first, and then move to the bone-headed.
Photography is great fun for me, and people are my favourite subjects. When I take photos of people, I like them to see the images afterwards. If the photos are good, the subject certainly had a part in it. I signed up with a photo sharing site to make it easier to show photos to my friends. If I take photos at a party or while visiting someone, photos will eventually appear in my gallery on the photo sharing site. Anyone who’s interested can see them.
I few times now I’ve come across people with my photos of them in their Facebook profile. This doesn’t really bother me because it shows they like the photos. I would’ve liked to have known without stumbling onto them, but that’s not a big deal to me. What bothers me is not being given credit. The photos are there but there’s no indication of who took them. Indeed, Facebook even strips the EXIF and IPTC data from the images.
Before you think I’m a nut because you can’t imagine why it matters to me, let me stop you for a second. I completely understand why the people who posted the photos didn’t think a thing of it. At the same time, my view is a little different. Compare yourself to a race car driver. You both drive a car, so there’s no difference, right? Well of course there’s a difference. Most of us drive simply to get places. As long as we get to the destination safely, it’s all good. On the other hand, the race car driver spends a lot of time building skill and technique to do more with the vehicle than most of us can imagine. Its utility versus craft.
Now I am in no way making any claim to being remotely close to a Michael Schumacher of photography. I’m more like someone who races go karts on weekends at their own expense, simply because they enjoy it so much.
Rather than simply taking snap shots to remember the moment, where all that’s really important is ballpark exposure and focus, I want a lot more from an image. So I spend time reading to understand the technical aspects, and I’ll give myself practice assignments to force myself to think creatively in different ways. I want to improve my creative vision and get better at understanding how to use the equipment to capture it.
So it’s a different perspective. I really do understand that very few people would think it’s any big deal to use a photo of themselves taken by a friend. While on the other hand, I see the same photo as the result of learning I started in my teens, the gear I’ve purchased, and time spent post-processing the images. It’s just a different view. There is no malice or intent. I get it. But at the same time, I don’t even get a credit? It bothers me.
And before you go there, I’m not the music industry. It’s not like I want payment from friends. I’d be pleased as punch with only credit where the images appear. It’s not grand theft so I am not going to flip out over it. I’m not even going to let myself take the easy path and get upset. I’m also not going to make myself look like a lunatic and tell everyone they’ve wronged me and demand they take the images down.
My first thought was to close the on-line gallery and start getting prints made. How old-school! But this is a bit of overkill. Then in thinking about it, a huge advantage came to mind. If I make prints, I’ll likely be there when they’re viewed, so I get to enjoy the photos with others. The social aspect is almost entirely missing from the on-line experience and I miss it a great deal. The side-benefit is a solution to the problem I started with: if anyone wants electronic copies, they have to ask, and I can tell them what I expect in return. So I’m going to see how prints work out. I’ve closed my portion of the on-line gallery for now.
Like I said, I’m not going to go RIAA on my own friends. If they want copies, all I want in exchange is clear credit and their word that they won’t use the images to make money, even indirectly. These two things are reasonable, I think.
The more I think about it, the more I like this idea. Never mind that it came about because of something that annoyed me. It’s fun to pass prints around and remember the fun times captured in the photos with the people who were there.
For most people who send a friend request, it’s not a big deal if you don’t add them right away, or even add them at all. This is as it should be. A friend list belongs to the owner, and who goes on it is up to the owner, period. All that’s really involved is you both appear in each other’s profile, listed as friends. There’s certainly no money or glory involved.
A guy I knew in high school sent me four friend requests, and an e‑mail message asking why I haven’t accepted … as if getting on to my friend list was a life-and-death matter. This was after initial appeal of Facebook had worn off for me, so I wasn’t logging in very often. The thing is, if you act like you’re entitled to something I feel is entirely at my discretion to give, you can pretty much forget about it. So this person was not added. After the e‑mail message, I went so far as blocking him.
Problem solved, right? Wrong. He then started exchanging messages with someone on my friend list out of the blue. After I disappeared because of the block, he started asking my friend about me. She began to feel uneasy and asked me if anything was going on. I explained the events she wasn’t a party to. As a consequence, she also blocked him.
So I sent him an e‑mail message directly, off of Facebook. I explained that he should do me the courtesy of asking these things of me directly, not a friend of mine he doesn’t know. Ask me. I was not aware he started talking to her as long ago as he did, but the point still stands.
You know what I heard back? Not a thing. Silence.
These social networking sites can be interesting, but overall, I’m not sure I get the appeal. Some people are quite enthusiastic about them. The initial appeal wore off quickly for me. To each, their own. A partial explanation might be that I am a perfect candidate to join this group on Facebook: Unlike 99.99999999999% of the Facebook population, I was born in the 60s.