Because I’m a sociologist with lots of Facebook friends who are also sociologists, my Facebook news feed can be a pretty depressing place. Facebook tends to be my source for stories like that of Shannon Gibney, who was accused of racial discrimination by three white students (Nathan Palmer has a nice discussion of the reasons that white men are much less likely to be accused of these sorts of things). For this reason, it was nice to see a post by Eric Grollman at Conditionally Accepted discussing the positive ways that academic allies have affected his career and calling for academic communities to share the responsibility for support. I have to admit that I have been conditioned by the constant information about terrible people in the world to expect the worst as Grollman set up each scenario, which made it particularly heartening to read about the responses he received. These sorts of responses may not make headlines but they can make a difference in the lives of our students, friends, and colleagues.
Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’
Posted in Gender, Race, Sexuality, The Ivory Tower, tagged Academic Allies, Allies, Conditionally Accepted, Eric Grollman, Facebook, Memoirs of a SLACer, Nathan Palmer, Salon, Shannon Gibney, Sociology Source on December 3, 2013 |
In graduate school, my policy on Facebook friend requests from students was that I would only accept them as friends after the semester was over. Since the likelihood of them having another class with me was very low I didn’t worry about them seeing ridiculous pictures of me and subsequently losing all respect for my authority in the classroom. When I started teaching at my current position, where the likelihood of interacting with the same students in multiple semesters is much greater, I changed my policy to reflect this by telling students that I would only accept their friend requests after they graduate.
Recent efforts to keep track of alumni, combined with Facebook’s movement of group management to a more convenient location (thanks Google+!), have led me to change my policy again. It turns out that students are more likely to send friend requests when they are in your classes than when they are not. This makes trying to build an online community of departmental alumni difficult after the fact. My new policy is to accept current students as friends while placing severe restrictions on the parts of my profile they can access. Students don’t see the pictures from my night at the bar with grad school friends, but they can see my status update about a recent sociologically-relevant headline.
Since I have only recently changed my policy and I am not advertising this change to students, I can’t evaluate the success of this change yet. The potential downside is that students may not control what their professors can and cannot see, so I’ll have to be careful to keep their photos of drunken nights and their ability to write and participate in class separate when grading.
Posted in Parents, Popular Press, The Electronic Age, Things People Say, tagged Backstage, Facebook, Facebook Parenting for the Troubled Teen, Goffman, Internet Privacy, Memoirs of a SLACer on February 12, 2012 | 1 Comment »
The video above, in which a parent reads a letter his daughter had posted on Facebook, criticizes her, and then shoots her laptop nine times, reinforces my previous statement that while public information on the internet is not private, private information is not necessarily private, either. The video has gone viral, receiving over 18 million views in the past five days, with over 92% of the people who submitted an opinion about it “liking” it. Among my Facebook friends, many of whom are parents themselves, it has received an overwhelmingly positive response, with comments that indicate they would like their own children to receive this sort of treatment.
Apparently, the birth of a child is enough to make us forget what it is like to be a teenager.
The friend who posted the video on Facebook, for example, had some rocky times with his own parents and even had the nerve to occasionally complain to his friends about them. The main difference between him and Hannah, the unseen daughter in the video, is that he shared his complaints in person while she displayed them for her friends on Facebook. Hannah, like many who grow up with these things, was aware of Facebook’s privacy settings and had hidden the post from her parents. Unfortunately for her, she probably also told Facebook to keep her signed in so that her father was able to view her full page when updating her computer.
Although I haven’t seen any responses from Hannah (her computer has been destroyed, after all), I fear the ramifications of losing the comfort of a backstage due to technology. How would my friend’s teenage years have been different if he couldn’t complain about his parents to me without them finding out? How would his life be different now if he could never come home and complain about his boss or go out with his friends and complain about his wife or children? Venting about minor problems likely prevents major explosions, but those who like this father’s tactics don’t seem to understand that that’s what Hannah was doing. I’ve read articles speculating that in the future drunken pictures won’t be a reason not to hire somebody (or elect them president) because we will be desensitized to people’s backstage activities. We’re clearly not there yet.
As it turned out, I was unable to sit through a meeting that bored me without fidgeting, texting, whispering to my neighbor, and going on Facebook repeatedly to update all my “friends” (many of whom were in the room) about my status. Status as what? Status as a middle-aged person who has utterly lost patience with meetings? Status as someone who has utterly lost hir manners?
I have to admit that there have been times in the past year where I sent text messages during faculty meetings – usually to let my wife know that I was not going to be home anywhere near the expected time. I find it interesting, though, that Tenured Radical blames Facebook for her behavior:
If it were not for the mileage I get for this blog from being on Facebook, I would definitely punish myself by canceling my account, since my behavior yesterday seems like de facto proof of cerebral and personality changes that have been wrought by this particular form of new media. I wasn’t even able to sit there quietly reading The Atlantic on my iPhone, which is the kind of non-disruptive behavior that many fifth graders with ADD have mastered.
As I’ve said before, I strongly believe that the bad use of technology is a symptom, not the disease.