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Facing up to Facebook?

May 13th, 2010 · No Comments

I have two pieces of information that I haven’t acted upon. A relative has indicated that she is now on Facebook. And so has a professional organization.

I haven’t heard much from the relative lately. I suspect there are more frequent communications on her Facebook page. But I haven’t looked. Suppose I “friend” her? Will the writers’ organization I belong to then be treated to discussions of our extended family’s baby pictures?

Can I count on Facebook to keep these currents flowing separately?

Facebook pages are free and they are available worldwide. At a convention, I met Pakistani journalists, also using Facebook. It’s great to have international colleagues, but I suspect we have very different feelings about a woman’s role in society. Should I share my history as a feminist editor-a history well-known to my friends? Or should I seek out some professional common ground without giving out quite so much information?

Facebook has privacy standards, but they are still evolving. And so am I. I am still pondering which way to face in a world where all our faces are increasingly public ones. And as Facebook and other social media continue to grow, I am wondering whether that choice will even continue to be mine.

A friend tells this second-hand tale of a student seeking an internship: The organization the student applied to requested to see her Facebook page, then instructed her which entries to delete. Is some boundary being crossed here? Should it be?

As a woman writer, will I pay an extra price when work and family mingle in public? Do I want family pictures, with children’s names and personal information, available on the Internet? What do I do about the college students I taught, who now want to “friend” me? Would they enjoy a funny snapshot of my dog Porschy fleeing the buzzing vacuum cleaner? Would the Pakistani colleagues?

The “whole world” may have been watching at sixties anti-war demonstrations, but back then it was usually possible to go home afterwards. Which face do I face the world with nowadays, when the scrutiny can be 24/7?

Meanwhile, my high school held a reunion. And yes, I got more Facebook requests.

Perhaps I should grow a separate set of names to greet the faces that I meet. Maybe avatars are the solution. I feel a twinge of atavism. I wonder if Currer, Acton, and Ellis are pseudonyms that can be taken.

While I’m still deciding, I’ve tweaked my privacy settings again. Don’t look for me on Facebook. If you do, you won’t find me …um … I hope.

Tags: It's about time! · Science and Technology

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