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The reality of NSA Google and Facebook

Social media rakes in the bucks
Social media rakes in the bucksRick Wonders

A lot has been made of Edward Snowden's revelations regarding the NSA's spying on American citizens. Since the initial charge, it has been revealed that NSA spies on just about everybody on the face of the planet. Yet, just how outraged should we be, considering most of us freely give up our private information to Google, Facebook, Twitter, Four Square, or any other social media app on a daily basis. Most people do it without giving it a second thought.

For instance, last week, WBAL TV reported on Roger Ireland, whose photo appeared on the Anne Arundel County Police Department's Facebook page. As part of the department's #WantedWednesday initiative, Ireland responded to his new found celebrity by taunting the police. He posted "Y'all will never catch me." Bad move. Needless to say, Mr. Ireland's boast did not work out as planned. Police picked him up within 24 hours. Most of the investigative work was accomplished through detectives contacting friends and relatives pinned to his Facebook page.

I long ago gave up trying to remain anonymous. Google, Facebook and Twitter seem to know more about my habits than I do. Facebook and Twitter obviously know more about the people I want to socialize with than I do. "Rick: Do you know Joe Shmoe from Kokomo?" Never heard of him, but since he knows a friend of a friend who knows some distant relative I met once forty years ago, Facebook wants us to be friends. As Dana Carvey's Church Lady used to say on SNL back in the day, "Isn't that special?"

Ironically, the people I am closest to in "real life" are not in my Facebook or Twitter circle. If we have something to say, we'll pick up the phone, or meet for breakfast. Sometimes we'll do both. One of us will actually pick up the phone and ask if they want to have breakfast. On the other hand, too many people think they have hundreds of friends because that is what Facebook wants them to believe. .

All of this brings me to a video that my cousin, who lives out of state, posted on her Facebook account last week. (That is the benefit of Facebook, I have to admit; being able to stay in touch with out-of-town relatives). The video has been making the rounds of the Internet over the past few months, so maybe some of you have seen it. If you haven't, I urge you to follow this link, and give it a look. It is a slightly less than five minute prose loosely titled "Look Up." It zeros in on how social media is actually the opposite of what Facebook and Twitter want you to believe. The most telling line is, "We're a generation of idiots; smart phones and dumb people."

If you are a slave to social media, you gave up any right to privacy the minute you signed onto Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or any other social network. Yet, if you still think the NSA's collection of meta-data is invasive, consider this: NSA is trying to protect the people of this country. Meanwhile, social media companies are only interested in your money. Who do you want to "friend" now?