Originally uploaded by tania.sheko
A little background … My older son was one of the last to ‘be allowed’ to use MSN, Facebook and MySpace. What am I saying? He was one of the last to ‘be allowed’ a gameboy, Nintendo, to watch The Simpsons, South Park, etc. Reflecting back on my reluctance to condone MSN, Facebook and MySpace, I have to admit amongst many other reasons, a distinct nervousness about this new way of socialising. True to every generation, I was afraid of change, and I wasn’t in control of this socialnetworking – I didn’t understand it at all. When you don’t understand something, you’re likely to be suspicious of it. Could even be paranoid about it.
Some time this year – I don’t remember why – I decided to ‘get’ Facebook. That weekend I don’t think I even came up for air. I was hooked. In a short time, I’d ‘found’ people I’d lost touch with and minutes later was communicating with them – my god-daughter in Sacramento, friends from Sydney we’d lost touch with – we had lived in Sydney for 13 years. Posted photo albums revealed young people we had known well as young children. I was able to see friends’ trips all over the world. I saw albums of weddings, christenings and other events.
The different levels of communication have proved interesting. When suddenly finding someone I knew but hadn’t seen for ages, and unsure of whether they wanted to reconnect, I was able to ‘poke’ them, leaving it up to them whether they wanted to communicate or not. Brief responses indicated a more distant willingness, whereas some responses were overwhelmingly positive and took the form of private emails. Writing on people’s walls is public with the knowledge of others being able to read everything. Very twitter-like is the initial few words that everyone adds which lets you know what they are doing or thinking or feeling in the last day or so. Sounds trite but sometimes I’m happy to be informed of things on the run – eg. if someone has passed an exam, got a new job, is sick, etc. You’re not expected to respond. It also means that you don’t have to email everyone separately with those little things.
Lastly, I have to admit, it’s addictive. If you’re the kind of person who has to check emails throughout the day (yes, it’s a little sad), then watch out – Facebook is worse because all your ‘friends’ are up there together and there’s so much going on at once.
Yes, I have changed my attitude to my sons’ participation with Facebook. I think it’s a good lesson, and one that can be translated to our experience as teachers/teacherlibrarians. If you don’t ‘do’ something, you won’t really know what it’s about. You’re more likely to be negative, suspicious, critical. But if you don’t keep up, not only could you alienate young people, you could miss out on a lot.
PS. Yes I do have a life. I also live in the real world.
I’d love to hear about others’ thoughts.