fb ager boom

I joined Facebook (fb) about a year ago as part of a learning and exploration process. I read numerous articles telling me it was for young folk, and us old folk should tread lightly. It is a learning process. As a matter of fact I accidentally invited all my nieces and nephews to be my friends through the email-connect before I really knew what I was doing … fortunately they didn’t ignore me. I make it my policy not to visit their pages. They probably wouldn’t mind, but I think of it as moving in different circles – I wouldn’t barge into one of their real life conversations with a group of their friends.

So it was I learned to use fb, got my husband hooked on it, even found a few co-workers there. But in the last six months, fb seems to have had an over-40 population explosion. I’ve been communicating with people I haven’t seen since I walked out of the auditorium after high school graduation. One former co-worker I connected with this week repeated something (paraphrased here) I’ve heard many times: “I’d never heard of it before, but someone suggested I try it.”

So why the fb ager boom? For me it was just a continuation of exploration that started when I learned to program in BASIC on a Commodore 64 in my high school’s first “computer class.” I just love technology and new (especially Web-based) applications. I suspect for some people it’s a response to articles that in essence have said “you can’t” or “you shouldn’t.” Others are prompted by old friends who want to get back in touch. Facebook really is a fun way to keep in touch.

If you have never been on fb and are thinking about it, just remember that the rules of real life should still apply. You don’t just go up and talk to a stranger – maybe he/she is creepy. Maybe you’re being creepy. You don’t have to accept every friend request or feel pressured to be a friend to everyone. It’s not high school (although it can feel like it sometimes). Friend (yes I’m using it here as a verb; get over it) colleagues and students with care. When colleagues/students become “friends,” lines can begin to get fuzzy. If you want to do so, then create groups within your friend list to keep control over how much information you share with each group. And remember that your Wall is public; your Inbox is private. Know the difference.

Thinking about using Facebook for course communication? Think carefully. It’s a social networking site. It can be useful to have a class page, but only if your students will use it or are not uncomfortable with it being on fb. Remember that there are other options (wikis, blogs, even Twitter) that may feel less intrusive. Personal space is personal space.

Finally, here’s an article about avoiding fb faux pas. And another about public and private personas. Enjoy. Maybe I’ll see you on Facebook.

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