Okay, so I have been hesitant to use Facebook for quite a while.
(Before I get to Facebook, you have to understand that I come from the generation where if we kept a personal diary, we bought one of those cutsie ones with a lock and key, then worked to keep it hidden from older siblings….Me? I didn’t have one. I was not about to share my innermost thoughts on paper-with anyone).
Now, I blog and have begun to create an ever-enlarging digital footprint (some would call it a personal learning network/environment, but that’s another post).
And to the point of this post: Facebook.
Something about Facebook has just never “felt right” to me. It has the same “feel” as when I first used Twitter…that sense of voyeurism (I mean “a prying – and uninvited – observer….” Not the other type of voyeurism!) ….that I was looking at and seeing things there that really were not meant for me to see. But wait, these things are on the INTERNET. That’s a pretty public place, isn’t it?
I kept (and still keep) wondering WHY??? And I admit I still don’t really “get” it. Call it generational, or whatever. My self-disclosure frame was constructed long ago. Central to it was this seemingly small piece of background info. My mother used to warn me when I was a teenager and about to go out: “Never do or say anything you don’t want to testify about in court.” Pretty darn good advice-it stuck with me. See, I still remember and quote it all these years later. The same could apply to what you post/say/share/divulge/disclose into VERY public digital spaces where you participate. Hence my reticence to join a community where self-disclosure in microscopic detail is the order of the day. Not to mention all of the privacy issues raised by the aggregation and sharing of the same information to third parties…who is benefiting here? (Also another post…)
I still marvel at how something first created by college students – way back in 2004- to make it possible for fellow students at Harvard to get to know each other online could wind up being the mega-online-conglomerate that is Facebook today. Just a couple of years back I kept hearing fits and snatches about Facebook in relation to our own connectivity and connection with incoming Freshmen and invited our then Dean of Students to come to my freshman seminar course to teach them about the dangers of too much self-declaration in Facebook. She showed us this video: Does What’s in Facebook stay in Facebook? This video has been online for a while now, but I still find it quite unnerving.
And even though I hear students and my own children talking about Facebook often, I still didn’t join in-until very recently. I have listened as some of my colleagues here share their own uses of Facebook in their teaching…creating “private” groups to connect with their students and push out course updates. I have seen interesting examples of institutions using Facebook to remind students about important information like academic advising deadlines, etc. This came along side reading about the “creepy treehouse”effect, nicely discussed at Jared Stein’s blog, Flexknowlogy. And I marvel at the fact that some are quite willing to use and encourage this application – knowing all of the behind-the-scenes data aggregation that is going on – who balk at the notion of using tools/products from other large here-to-remain-unnamed corporate entities.
In spite of the fact that “this is where our students are” am I sold? Not quite yet. I continue to be quite concerned over the privacy and data mining issues. And I think that we the Facebook-using-public have only minimal understanding about what is actually going on when we cheerfully upload and tag our photo-of-the-day, join/fan causes, buy stuff, share our music preferences, find long lost friends, etc….Some of us became alarmed anew when yesterday things like this this circulated around the Twitterverse: “Anger Greets Facebook Terms of Service Change”. Still want to play??
I will admit that over the very few weeks that I have been using Facebook– sparingly – I have been able to connect long-distance with family and friends I might not otherwise be interacting with (especially not on a daily basis!). I even used Facebook chat this morning for the first time. There is indeed value in staying in touch. But I have to say that the porous boundaries and blending of life compartments – family with work with friends all together in one location – leaves me feeling a bit exposed on all counts. I’m not quite sure what to make of it.
If you are a “seasoned” Facebook fan/user I apologize for pointing out what is probably old news to you. But I suspect there are others like me who are still deciding – cautiously – whether to embrace this social net experience or not. If you decide to join in, be careful and inform yourself about what you are getting into:
2. Take a look here at a Fortune article, How Facebook is Taking Over Our Lives
3. Another: 10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know, by Nick O’Neill
This probably won’t be the last time I write about Facebook. I am surprised by and about it every day. For now, today…this is my take on it.
Can it be useful for some purposes? Yes, absolutely.
Are there worrisome issues one needs to be aware of? Yes, too.
Will I keep my account? For now.
But I don’t intend to expand my “Profile” much beyond what it is right now. So, if you want to know if I am “in a relationship”, what music I like, what my favorite movie is, what my favorite color is, what book I am reading….I might tell you. Just not on Facebook.