I don’t think much about Facebook. I just have fun with it.
My friendz* on the site range from people I know extremely well to people I’ve never met — 302 in all, built up over 4 years.
I don’t take Facebook seriously — ever. And that’s part of its charm: There’s no pressure to be “on.” In my spoof of the “25 Things” meme I said: “I’m a Facebook whore who accepts friend invitations from almost anyone. In the end, it really doesn’t matter much, because we’re just pretending to be friends.”
Turns out, that’s not really true. Most of my 302 friendz are folks I met while passing through life, and I know most of them reasonably well. But I certainly haven’t met them all.
Contrast this to a GenY view of Facebook:
“There’s the difference between your generation and mine,” my 23-year-old son told me. “I use Facebook to track personal contacts, and to stay in touch with them.” Chris says he’s met face to face every one of his 735 Facebook friendz, and he plans to keep it that way. “That’s why they call it Facebook.” Chris sees it as a “personal” space that shouldn’t be co-mingled with one’s professional life — or one’s Twitter stream.
For his “GenY” view, check out his post titled, “Are we friends on Facebook yet?” (That title spoofs a line often seen on Twitter.)
How do I use Facebook? I just react to what pops up.
But I do have one ground rule: Never reach out to friend a student. When you hold a position of authority over someone — as I do with students — it’s important to keep some distance. Also, consider that 90% of PR majors are young, single women, and I’m an old married guy. Friend requests from geezers — especially teacher geezers — can be creepy. And do you really want do be accepted with only a “limited profile view”? Ouch!
Bosses and supervisors should follow the same rule.
Now, if a student sends a request my way, I accept EVERY time. I get quite a few of those, but I advise students to avoid friending their professors. You see, we spend I good bit of time on Facebook trying to learn what makes you tick. We read the wall posts and we look at the pictures.
Do you really want that burden?
As it turns out, the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree. My use of Facebook is not that different from my GenY son. Here’s a quick content analysis of my 302 Facebook relationships.
I’m not sure what any of this means. But I do know that more and more in the 40+ group are flocking to Facebook, and many are using it as a business networking tool.
Others are using it to connect with long, lost friends. And at my age, you tend to have a few of those. Gotta say, I love getting friend requests from the “kids” in my class at IAHS. I still miss you guys. No s#@*. Those were some good times.
So have fun with Facebook. Just don’t overthink it.
* I was introduced to the term “friendz” by Brian Connolly, one of the creators of the Strumpette blog. Since he was among the first people I know to question the authenticity of online “relationships.” he earns this footnote.