I recently deleted my FaceBook account, and not because I am afraid of what my future employers may find, or because I spent too much time on it, or because they change the template so often that I can’t keep up. I deleted FaceBook because of what it allows people to do. It gives people anonymity that allows them to think/say/do anything they wish, regardless of the repercussions because there are no repercussions on FaceBook! Basically what I am trying to say is that FaceBook (and many other social networking sites, I’m sure) is turning people into cowards.
Example #1: Best Friend of 18 years backs out of my wedding party one week prior to the wedding, and lets me know through FaceBook.
Example #2: FaceBook friend who I haven’t seen or spoken to in over a year finds out that I “unfriended” her two months after the fact and proceeds to direct her FaceBook status towards me. Let’s just say I can’t include what she wrote because this is supposed to be a professional space.
I don’t want this post to become a rant that turns me into a victim. Rather, I want to address the issue of anonymity that these social networking sites provide. Neither of these women would have acted the same way if we had been face to face when these issues arose. Perhaps my friend of 18 years would still have backed out of the wedding, but at least in a face to face conversation there is a mutual respect between both parties. What are the consequences of substituting real life with social networking sites? How has it become socially acceptable to deal with real life matters in a virtual world?
How can we, as educators, teach our students to use these social networking sites in a way that does not replace the need for face to face interaction? How can we encourage our students to deal with real life problems in real life rather than online? How can we show our students that tweeting about somebody behind their back is both cowardly and unproductive? Perhaps one way to do this is to demonstrate it–students learn by example. Maybe having a FaceBook account isn’t such a bad idea, as long as you use it properly, so that your students can see the positive benefits of social networking sites…
However, I am still angry, so I will not be “reactivating” my FaceBook account anytime soon.