code breaking and social espionage.

February 25, 2010

In the age of social networking, it’s easy to be a social spy. There are stalker feeds everywhere, letting you know the exact mood and location of your “friend” or…”target.” Let’s face it, these days we have transcended good old fashion friendships and are all actively engaged in social espionage. Friends and lovers meet online, people plan their activities via twitter or facebook updates. Instead of calling each other, we @reply. Gone are the days when you had to actually come face to face and have an argument in private. Now we publicly humiliate or ‘call each other out’ via twitter and facebook updates. So how do we navigate our friendships via social networking? What are the new codes we have to live by in a technologically savvy world?

CODES

“Bros before Hoes.” “Chicks before Dicks.” We all know the rules of friendship. You don’t date your best friend’s EX, or sibling, and you don’t make friends with your best friend’s enemy (unless it is an undercover mission). These codes haven’t changed. It’s how we deal with the code breakers and attempt to sneak around that’s changed. With social media at the forefront, you have to be careful who you are publicly chatting it up with. Before, you could hide a friendship, or a relationship…Now, it is virtually impossible. Facebook wants to know your relationship status. Twitter wants to know who you are with at all times. Myspace wants your photos together (preferably in front of a mirror). Of course, if your friends are smart, or internet savvy, you will get caught. Even if you are super careful, one small slip, an @reply where it doesn’t belong, a comment a bit too specific…..you now have to incur the wrath of the social networking feud.

INTELLIGENCE GATHERING

All you need to know about your enemy or frenemy is out there. Twitter. Facebook. Myspace. Formspring. Blogs. Waiting for you to utilize it. For the most part, every social networking site has a privacy setting, to protect against unwanted stalking. Fortunately for you, the people you most likely want to know about haven’t set their status’ to private, because they want attention, they crave the drama. Or, they are a frenemy. You don’t even have to do the legwork anymore; the ‘newsfeeds’ do it for you. Updating you on everything you want to (or don’t want to) know (Don’t forget about screen captures for documentation if things get scary with actual stalkers).

SOCIAL ESPIONAGE

There are several options that your ‘frenemy’ may take. Let’s take a look at some brilliant friend-war tools available thanks to social networking:

De-Friending. Here we have the ever popular ‘friendship deletion.’ This, in my opinion, is juvenile and cowardly when it precedes any actual face to face conversation. Go ahead, delete me from  your page instead of growing the fuck up and talking to me. Do I really care to read your status updates and see your mobile updates? You are the one deleting me, not the other way around dear (Of course, if they were smart they would realize they may want to stalk you in the future, and wouldn’t dare deprive themselves of access to your page).

Twitter Rage. This is a popular one. I’ve seen more people tweet about their shitty ex boyfriend/girlfriend or shitty friendships than I have any other topic. If there is pure unadulterated (or adulterated….get it?) rage involved, you will see an @reply to the “target,” making sure that all of the “twitrager’s” followers are aware of the injustice done unto them. If they plan on forgiving, or further using, the “target” you won’t know who their rage/hurt is aimed at, but by golly you best feel sorry for their pain! After all, isn’t that why they tweeted about it?

Anonymous Bashing. Thanks to formspring.me, enemies now have the luxury of posting anonymous ‘questions’ and ‘comments’ about a person they have hatred or jealousy towards. If you are smart, a) you don’t care what this anonymous person has to say about you, and b) you don’t respond. The whole point was to get a rise out of you, or get you to say something stupid publicly on the internet. However, if you are dumb enough to answer and play along with their shit, maybe you deserve the aftermath. Now, here is where the real spies can engage in intelligent espionage. Go ahead and answer, if you are wise to who it is, or have an endgame that requires your words being printed with a timestamp and date. How else can  you bring a true crazy down without documented proof? Just word your responses carefully, there is no need to get yourself in any deeper than necessary.

MISSION COMPLETE

The easiest way to avoid friendship faux pas in the era of social networks? Be a good friend. Wow, that seems so simple. Be honest, be true, and be there for your friends when they need you (you may have to check their status update or twitter feed to know when something’s up, so be sure to check regularly). Oh, and please, be careful when mixing alcohol and status updates 😉 That delete button may provide some virtual erasure, but it doesn’t delete the sentiment from the universe or your target.