Library On/Library Off

Nicolibrarian explores the secret life of information

To be skeeved, or not to be skeeved? That is the question.

with 6 comments

I’m trying to determine if the below exchange should elicit skeeved-ness, or if this is just what happens when you share your iTunes library in public places and are stupid enough to have your name on your music library and your Facebook profile.


The scene: a public coffee shop with wi-fi, Iowa, USA. The place is packed with college kids.

The actors: Me and a fellow I will call GB, because those are his initials.

The situation: I default to having my iTunes library shared. I am working away at aforementioned coffee shop, when I get a Facebook message from GB. I have never met this person before. I am surprised, shocked…and, well, here’s how it went down

GB: Do you know that your songs are shared at (coffeshop) right now?

NF: I generally keep the sharing on; why not? But I guess I’m skeeved enough to turn it off for now…hello, BTW, across the room.  (mildy shocked, turning iTunes sharing off, IDing person sitting across room)

GB: not sure where you are … can’t recognize your picture … I guess I am not only brown dude here … easy to recognize me … hope did you scare you by sending the message … I see you like punk … I was listening to them … hope u did not mind it much

NF: oh, what the hell. I’ll turn it back on. Nah, I guess not bothered. Just, um, surprising, I guess. (recognizing fear response, thinking it unnecessary, turning sharing back on; also grabbing his ip address for some reason or another)

GB: Hey Thanks … sorry again… I think I may feel better if could formally introcude myself to you … as I have not idea who you are … but I already know what types of songs you like … 🙂

NF: I think I’m better now. No worries. Sharing is fun.

GB: Looks like you are sharing lot more music now … thanks … listening to someone’s music, I wonder whether it is possible to tell how that person is … interesting idea … think about it … ha ha … This is funny – I don’t know how you look like or who you are but music wise I can take a guess what type of person you could be …On the otherhand, you know how I look like but don’t know what type of person I could be … 🙂

NF: (ignores for 3+ hours; turns sharing off before leaving)

GB: Ahh … you took away some music again … btw: I narrowed you down to one of three girls now …

NF: (skeeved now. paranoia sets in. calls husband to alert him leaving coffee shop and to expect me home.)

(end scene)

Here’s the truth of it: I believe in being social on the Internet. I blog under my name, I tweet under my name. I generally try to be safe – I don’t use location-based services, I try not to disclose too much personal information online, but realize we all make mistakes (e.g. My name was on my iTunes library; this has since been anonymized). Was I too friendly in the above; was I too defensive: and who the hell wouldn’t think “you know how I look like but don’t know what type of person I could be” is creepy, creepy, creepy. Some have said that perhaps GB was trying to teach me about privacy; I say there’s far less menacing ways to do so. In the interests of full disclosure and lest you think me too paranoid, I used to work for a domestic violence shelter and sexual assault center; stalking and crimes of violence are not abstractions to me.

Discuss, Internet. To be skeeved, or not to be skeeved? Beyond this exchange, how do you keep yourself safe online?


Written by nicolibrarian

April 12, 2010 at 11:06 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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6 Responses

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  1. Awww… Sounds like GB was just trying to flirt and be friendly. Albeit awkward (at best), I wouldn’t hold it against the guy or continue to be skeeved. He’s probably just a poor, amorous kid trolling the iTunes library to meet local ladies who like to party. 😉


    April 15, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    • I wondered the same, but GB was not a kid. He was an older guy – I’m guessing 35? And oh my, that’s the worst online flirting I’ve ever had. Thanks for the thoughts, Meghan.


      April 15, 2010 at 8:04 pm

  2. How did GB contact you – via Twitter or a chat client?

    I think it’s great to share things – but always be aware of how much you share. Frankly, if you google my name, you can find far too much about me, what I do and where I go. It’s something I should really change.


    April 15, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    • GB messaged me in Facebook. I think I may have been less freaked if it was Twitter…altho you can see very little of me if you’re not a FB friend, it was just so personal.

      Ditto for googling me…should we change it? (Not that we can, even if we should.) Is that in conflict with values of being social on the net? In my past life, we called this the “professional/personal rub” – so when your professional social media life got a little too close to your personal social media life. Methink it feels more like a chafe than a rub these days.


      April 15, 2010 at 8:08 pm

  3. I might be old fashioned when it comes to privacy, but I’d rather be in direct control of what I share. If I post it on the intertubes, I expect every one should be able to find it. Since making this choice, I’ve also limited my fb account and tried my darnedest to sanitize what I share. I’ve stripped out my home-town and just about everything else that identifies me other than my name.
    What skeeves me out is that FB holds onto that information even though I’ve removed it. It sends me adverts based on information that I’ve since deleted. Obviously I shouldn’t be so surprised, this being 2010 and computers being so computerish and robust, but I still don’t care for it.
    As for GB, he’s a bit skeevie for sure. A less creepy approach would have been a bit more direct, introducing himself and allowing you to ID him rather than the snooping around and trying to narrow you down from the crowd.
    That being said, our good friend Martin would probably do the same thing. We both know that he’s a great guy, not creepy at all, that just happens to be quite talented at gathering information and making deductions.
    I guess the best plan would be to leave as few crumbs as possible and tighten up what you share publicly to a point where you’re comfortable.


    April 27, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    • It has been such an interesting experience to get people’s views on this situation, and I just hope Martin would be less odd in his approach. And I hear you about FB…oi, what a mess that place is, right?


      April 27, 2010 at 8:04 pm

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