Making the Most of Facebook's New Privacy Features

I think we've all been in a situation on Facebook where we've learned to regret a comment posted to a broader group of so-called "friends." How do you even define the word "friend" now? Because I'm pretty sure Captain Sully may be awesome and listed as a friend on my Facebook list of friends, but I have never met him or spoken to him before :)

In a digital age where it is becoming increasingly more difficult to decipher between personal and professional personas, you're bound to have slip-ups, right? Oops, it turns out I don't use my company's product, or crap, if my mom sees this, I'm so getting a nasty phone call.

I know for several of my friends (my husband included), they flat out don't like the "intrusive" nature that digital components like Facebook and Twitter provide. I completely understand their issues, and to a large extent, agree with them. Unfortunately, in my line of work, I'm required to not only participate in these sites, but be active in them.

The trick is being active in the so-called "right" way.

Which is why I'm SO FREGGGIN excited about Facebook's new privacy settings. Some of you may have already gotten the screen asking if you wanted to keep your old settings or go to new settings.

Most of you probably stuck with your old settings -- why mess with what's working just fine for you, right? In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if I get an invitation to join some lame group about wanting to bring back the old privacy settings. But people, change is good, and here is why:

I only have to show you what I want you to see. See the name of my blog, "Reconnaissance on Myself?" Yes, part of the point of my blog is the act of "writing" things out to better understand myself. The other element is only letting you see and know what I want you to see and know about me -- nothing more. With the new settings, I have the ability to only let certain people and/or groups see the content I want them to read. Let's say I had a super bad day at work. Someone stole my lunch, crapped in my cube as a practical joke and took my computer and smashed it to the ground in an evil revenge plot. If I don't know who did it -- but don't want to air dirty laundry about my crazy co-workers, I could literally send a post out on Facebook asking who the heck crapped in my cube. OR...

Maybe I'm pregnant (I'm not), but I only want the closest of friends to know. I can set up a list of those friends and send a status update to only them. Yes, phone calls are still the preferred method for sharing that news, but I'm just giving an example.

Still confused? Let me walk you through it:

Step 1. Find the "create a list" link. A little bit harder than you think, because sometimes Facebook can be an asshole. Yet I still love it and use it daily. I know, crazy. Anyways, you just click on "More" in that section on the far left of your "home" page and then click on "Create a New List." Here's some screen shots if you are still confused.

Step 2. Name the list and select the people you want in it. So this pop-up screen will appear, and you literally name your list and then start clicking on people's names to add them to it. My list is called "close friends and family" which only consists of about 20% of my total friend count on here. For those of you who find Facebook intrusive and don't like the idea of sharing all of your information with co-workers, your mother's second cousin or your best friend from band camp, I highly recommend making a list so you can still "be friends" with all of these people online, but you don't have to worry about them seeing anything that is meant for only a close group of people. Example -- college kids. If you post your crazy ass photos on Facebook -- or a friend does -- set the privacy settings to a more selective list so future (or current) employers don't see it. You'd be surprised how many people don't think of that.

Step 3. Posting crap. Obviously, I want everyone to know my husband is the best husband ever. So that little lock icon right next to the share button allows me to do that. But let's say I want some of my friends to know that yesterday he was a total turd. I'd hit that custom button before I did that and conveniently omit all of his family members from viewing it :) Not that I would ever do that... but now only a few people will know.
I think these privacy settings are a step in the right direction to getting the division of our professional and personal lives back. In the "always on" environment we live in, you never know who is reading what and misconstruing your words in a way you maybe never intended. So save yourself the awkward calls, comments and Aunt Jane (no, not you, Justin's Aunt Jane... just using "Jane as an example!) randomly coming up to you at Christmas to ask about a status update from six months ago and start organizing your online life. I promise you won't regret it.


The New Way to Bargain Shop

Boutiques? Too expensive and always full price.
The mall? Too crowded, picked over and half the time I leave disappointed.
Outlet mall? Fun, but only with friends and more than half the time I leave disappointed.
Solution? Online bargain shopping.

Holy crap, I've been in heaven the last week. With sites like RenttheRunway.com, Ruelala.com and Gilt, (the latter two also have iPhone apps for literal 24-7 shopping), I've been able to score some AMAZING bargains on classic designer staples for the cheap -- just in time for Christmas.

I encourage you to check them out. My favorite purchase so far has been a pair of Burberry rain boots that I've been searching for online and in the stores for what seems like years. I finally scored them at the price I wanted to pay. Yippee. They come next week :) I'm praying for rain.

And while I haven't used RenttheRunway.com yet, let me tell you that I am tempted to try it. I'm sick of spending money on dresses I only end up wearing once to events and weddings. For $50-200 (for the record, I'll only be renting the $50 ones), I get a dress that normally sells for $400-$2,000 (never spent that on a dress ever anyways, except my wedding gown), and you get to keep it for four days. If you want an invite for the site, I'll shoot it over to you. :)