Monday, February 23, 2009

Facebook and Boundaries

Two weeks ago, I joined Facebook. I had no interest in it, but took seriously a challenge by the tech-guy at work. You can read what he wrote here. Granted, his target audience was the faculty, but what he says applies to non-teaching personnel, too. Technology at our school is moving ahead at a steady clip, and I, for one, don't want to be left behind.

So I looked at how I use technology in my personal life. I began using email and surfing the web as soon as I had a computer and an internet connection, about ten years ago. I started my blog about two and a half years ago. At one point I had a web page. I belong to networking groups. Recently I set up a ning for my family's use.

In another effort to try to keep current, to not fall behind and stay behind, I opened a Facebook account. I'm not sure I'm going to keep it. It's not that I don't have "friends." In fact, I have an abundance of them, with additional people knocking on my proverbial door daily. And it's not so much that it's a time-eater, though it certainly is.

It's a matter of boundaries. My "friends" include some cousins, some seminary classmates from ten or more years ago, some coworkers and a couple of students from the school, folks from my quilting world, and my very first friend Estie from when we were in third grade.

I have never thought of myself as particularly compartmentalized. But it occurs to me: Do I want people from work -- either students or faculty -- following threads that will lead them to other areas of my life? I'm not sure. Do I want my family members exposed to the vernacular of some of the students? Do I want my Lutheran colleagues wondering why I'm accepting Quaker-themed virtual gifts?

I'm not sure.

And this has got me to thinking about the blog. I'm mindful of the concept that I shouldn't put anything out into cyberspace in any form unless I wouldn't mind if it showed up on the front page of the [possibly soon to be defunct] Philadelphia Inquirer. I share some of my musings with my blog readers, and often am enlightened by their insights. At the same time, I am mindful that I don't want to write anything that would make my husband or children feel uncomfortable in any way.

I'm aware that if I choose to write about someone, readers aren't getting a complete picture of that person (or of me) -- it is only what I am choosing to share. And I wonder how just that is.

Sometimes I feel uncomfortable when I read blogs where people share painful stories from their childhoods or speak disparagingly about their parents. I think about the gal who makes nice quilts and used to blog about them and then suddenly during the recent Presidential campaign turned into a ranter who posted untruths about one of the candidates and used the Drudge Report as a primary source. I wonder if someday she will feel at all embarrassed about having let her vitriolic passion become so public. I think about the blogger whose training, I believe, has nothing to do with psychiatry or psychology, who labeled her parents with diagnoses straight out of the DSM-III (or is it IV, now?) and I feel sad for them.

I guess where all of this is leading is to the realization that on my Blog I can control what I share, but can't control how others might interpret what I write or what they might do with my writings. So I'm judicious. On Facebook, it seems, no matter how carefully I word my "status" -- "Nancy is tired" -- people will write what they like on my "wall" and their own statuses will show up in the "activity" for all to read, to think about and interpret.

I thought I'd give Facebook a month, and I still believe I will, but somehow I don't think it is going to be my thing. Whether I fall behind technologically or not.

Did this make any sense at all?


30 comments:

Karen said...

Hi Nancy,

I am also on Facebook, mostly as a link to my college aged daughter away at school. It is the quickest way to reach her because she rarely uses email.

I post very general items of note. I never have in my status that I am out of town or out *in* town.

I do not join any of the 3rd party applications, it's another way for more people to have access to your personal info.

Keep it light, use it as a meet and greet and remember that you don't have to fill in all the Facebook blanks.

I'm curious to see how you come to like it or dislike it!

Karen

Juliann in WA said...

I have been reluctant to join facebook for the reasons you have mentioned so now I can wait and see what you decide and add that to my pro/con list - thanks

Mimi said...

Your post makes perfect sense to me, Nancy.

I, too, have a Facebook account. I am very careful (at least I think I am) and am reluctant to "branch" out to the masses.

Pieceful Afternoon said...

I tend to agree with you about the different "compartments" of my life - not sure I like sharing all aspects with everyone. Well stated.

Living on the Spit said...

I completely understand and that is why I dumped Facebook. I kept my Myspace for my girls away at school, but rarely check in there, so it will probably be what goes next.

Gretchen said...

I completely understand your misgivings about Facebook. I've decided not to join Facebook. I enjoy my blog but that's about as much "out there on the internet" as I want to be. Face it, there are just some people I don't want finding me, ya know. Also, I need to be careful not to spread my free time too thin. Looking forward to reading more thoughts from you about this topic.

Lorraine said...

Hi Nancy - well said.....I am on Facebook - the kids set it up as a link to theirs so I can share photos etc.... however I rarely log on....never join any third party applications and when I do log on am wary of what I write on walls - I have received requests to be "friends" with people I have no knowledge of....which I reject...how "cruel" - accepting and rejecting "friends"....when I do log on there are things written by "friends" to each other which I have no interest in...I prefer my blog for the same reasons you stated...it is mine and I choose what I share....anyone can read it so I am mindful that there are those out there who are not my friends - who may even dislike me - but who can read my blog...so I keep it pretty simple......with spending all day every day of the woring week on the computer and my blog....I think that is enough technology for me at this point in time....I can see the merits of Facebook...the kids enjoy chatting to old schoolmates and keeping in contact with those they may see rarely (if ever)but I don't think it is the medium for me....

word verification: ganco - a square peg in a round hole

Barb said...

Yep Nancy I hear you! I toyed with the idea of Facebook and then dismissed it for the very reasons you are questioning it! With my blog, I can ask permission of the people and the pictures I blog about, I can control the discussion *for the most part*...so for me *no facebook* is my decision at least for now! I did look into it and did some reading about it though...I was close but just not brave enough to go for it!

dot said...

No chance Nancy and I am not enjoying this change either. If you are going to talk about me on your blog please do not be afraid to mention my blog.

Mrs. Goodneedle said...

I agree with you regarding FB andboundaries, I've run across some lines that I'd just have soon stayed this side of. I'm with ya on this one...

PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

I think Facebook is strange. I've had "friends" who I don't know and I don't know how they got there. I've deleted them. I really don't care about the comment another unknown person makes regarding a real friend's status. I know I can prioritize this various people, but that hasn't helped at all. I haven't met any people on facebook that I don't already know and know their email addresses. My son added a whole bunch of people with our same last name that we've never heard of before.

I joined to help keep in touch with my kids, but, unfortunately, one doesn't have internet and the other doesn't like facebook. The one who uses facebook keeps in touch all the time anyway.

So far, Facebook is a total waste of time for me. And it won't even open this evening anyway.

Anonymous said...

Wow! That was alot of over thinking give your poor brain a rest.

Barbara said...

I joined Facebook primarily to keep in touch with my two daughters at university in England (we live in Germany). When they have photos of events, I can see them and that means a lot.
As for what I put out - firstly I keep my 'friends' to my real friends, secondly I do not use the status or any of the extra applications on offer. I am really pleased with the benefits and just do a quick check-in every day.
When I get a blog, and I intend to, it will be about my quilting experiences, no politics, no religion and as little as possible about family/pets. I think one needs to protect oneself in a disciplined way in order to use technology rather than be used by it.

Chookyblue...... said...

not really into the facebook thingy.......way to much personal info out there from people........you can't delete you account either..........only make it dormant but it is NOT wiped........

mamaspark said...

Both blogs and FB are forms of personal expression. I joined FB to keep up with my girls when they went away to college. I have fun with it and have connected to folks I haven't seen in awhile. These tools are just that and become what you make of them.

The Calico Cat said...

I decided not to join FB for the reasons you mentioned. My husband is on FB & so is my sister. (She asked me to be her "friend" but she never drops me a note to say "hi" otherwise...)

debijeanm said...

You make, as always, perfect sense. I enjoy my facebook account very much. My "friends" are my family and the friends of my sons, people who I enjoyed and loved all their lives but who, now that they are all grown, I never see. It's wonderful to be a little bit in touch. But I have not accepted an old acquaintance of mine, nor have I accepted all the district employees who have asked to be in my friends pool because I don't want my occasional frustrated complaint about my job or district immediately disseminated throughout the community. facebook can be fun but it can also be a curse and I encourage people to be very careful with it.

amy said...

Nancy, I feel the same way about it. I poke around there but really don't want the various parts of my life intersecting.

Karin said...

I enjoy reading your blog which is likjed from one of my friends. I also joined facebook recently but will probably just keep on with my blog

Guenveur in Kent said...

Makes a lot of sense. What I don't get is Twitter. Why? Just another form of logorrhea, joining those people with phones stuck in their ears. Do these people ever have a quiet moment? I joined Facebook because my children are almost all on it, but I hardly ever check it.

*karendianne. said...

A great post with lots to think about. I love your Blog, struggle with my own and think (to myself) how will I keep this going? I can hardly manage...

(word vfy: forepick - I'm not even going to explain this!)

quiltmom said...

Hi Nancy,
I had the same reservations about facebook - I joined it because it connects me with my nieces and nephews who live in various places across the country. I am pretty careful what I write about on both my blog and on facebook- but so far its been nice to have some connections with parts of our family.
It is a hard decision how far one puts themselves out in blogland but in the end you have to do the things you feel the most comfortable with- if it feels wrong to me as a writer then I won't do it.
Regards,
Anna

Anonymous said...

Nancy,
My #2 son uses Facebook to communicate with #1 son who is away at school. I asked #2 the other day if he thought #1 would let me on as a friend, and his response was "Seriously Mom?"

He is offended that all of us 'old' people are stepping over our boundaries. I just had to laugh. Meanwhile, I'm still e-mailing and calling #1. =)

Salem Stitcher said...

I'm with you. I have a my space account just so I can view photos from a friend far away but I've avoided facebook. Both seem to be a bit out of control for my taste. On my blog and in my comments on other blogs, I share what I want and try to be careful and kind.

From Nancys Heart said...

Hi Nancy,
I can understand how you feel regarding Facebook but I still commend you for challenging yourself in new media. As long as you are aware and control how much info you publish, you will be fine.
I am also a member of Facebook; also due to work associates; however, I have found that I've been able to reconnect with old friends from college and have met some new acquaintances - stretching my limited NJ boundaries!
I wish you good luck in this endeavor and at least you gave it a try! :D
Nancy

Brenda said...

Hi Nancy,
My extended family is large and if not for facebook I would never know what they are up to. My Prep School class had only 125 students and after trying to locate them through many different venues I joined Facebook and have found almost half of them, it's amazing!
What was not amazing was when I started receiving all these weird "gifts" and request. So guess what? I just press "ignore" and I'm done. I don't accept friend invitations from people I don't know personally (Pat Sloan being the only exception)and I really like it. I think, like my blog, it serves it's purpose. In my case, to reconnect with family and friends... I think you have to take what you like and leave what you don't. If I want to know what my quilting buddies are doing I read their blogs, I don't hunt them down on Facebook, that's just plain weird! My cousins don't quilt; why would they read my blog? But they would love to see pics of my Prince...so I share them there, and it makes me feel as if we're really not that far away. Just my two cents. Love your blog too. You're so insightful! =)

Carole said...

Good post! I've come to the conclusion that it's not so much "falling behind technology" but making technology work for me. I do not want to become a slave to technology, nor do I feel the need to keep up with the cyber Jones lol. Although I do not think I could live without a computer, I certainly get a lot done when their isn't one around to distract me. I think we as a society have come to a point where most people have no sense of personal boundaries and as a result, nothing is sacred anymore. Your blog entry is certainly making me think, perhaps on a deeper level than was intended! lol Thank you. Keep well!

Tanya said...

I'm afraid I still don't know what Facebook is. I've seen the word around but haven't looked into it. I have enough trouble figuring out the blog and knowing who reads what and wondering if I might insult people by what I say. I don't think I could keep track of myself.

Laurie said...

Funny, I've been resisting Facebook, and I had never really put words to why. This is it exactly! It breaks down the compartments in my life.

And for some reason I kind of like my compartments.

Loris said...

Nancy, I'm new to your blog..found my way from Bonnie's blog. Thought your postings about FB and boundaries interesting. I have some of the same thoughts and concerns. I am losing energy for FB but am choosing some quilting blogs to follow for inspiration and to perhaps find some courage to start writing one of my own. Sometimes sharing what I am doing, energizes me to do more and maybe appreciate what I accomplished more. Not sure. Do you feel the blogs are more secure than something like FB?
new to this, Loris