February
3rd 2009
Sigh. Eyeroll.

Posted under: jobs, students, technoskepticism, unhappy endings

More evidence that Facebook is a foolish gamble that just leads to trouble.  No one over the age of 25 and/or who wants to get and keep a job should have a Facebook account.  (Scions and heiresses under the age of 25–party on!)  I’ve got a blog, so clearly I like to “share,” but there are limits, people!

Is nothing private?  Forget Arent and the banality of evil–technology today is all about the evil of banality.

25 Comments »

25 Responses to “Sigh. Eyeroll.”

  1. nicole on 03 Feb 2009 at 11:35 am #

    I find it troubling that incredibly intelligent people (at least in some area of their lives) do such stupid things. Anything one posts online should be something one would be comfortable explaining to a boss etc.

  2. Knitting Clio on 03 Feb 2009 at 1:02 pm #

    I agree — this was a brain fart of epic proportions. She should have sent this to “Rate My Students” instead.

    I use both Facebook and my blog. I use Facebook for “micro-blogging” — posting links and thoughts when I don’t have time to do a long entry on my blog. Also, when I post a new blog entry, a notice will appear in my Facebook profile. I’m careful about “TMI” in both venues. For example, I’ve refused to do the “25 random things” meme that is flying around FB.

  3. thefrogprincess on 03 Feb 2009 at 1:51 pm #

    @ Knitting Clio: as I said to a friend yesterday, I wonder how many online privacy security questions are being displayed inadvertently in people’s “25 random things.”

    That being said, in response to Historiann’s suggestion that over-25s should not have a Facebook profile, I’m afraid you’ll have to go higher with that age limit. The first groups of people to have facebook accounts (back when Facebook started in 2004 and was restricted to colleges and universities) are now 25 and over. In fairness though, many of us that have been on since the beginning have been increasingly suspicious of how broad it’s become and how much information is being shared willy-nilly. I’ve had several conversations with friends about our privacy settings etc, conversations that come out of a general fluency with the technology.

    Facebook’s going to be around and I don’t think it’s a bad thing but everybody needs to use it with a bit more savvy. Actively check those privacy settings; there’s a new feature I discovered today that allows you to see your profile from the point of view of one of your friends. I think this is mainly because you can now restrict what certain individuals see; but it turned out that I had a “phantom” entry in my profile that I’m sure I thought I had erased and that didn’t show up on my profile when I signed in but apparently was seen by all of my friends. Good thing I checked.

  4. Historiann on 03 Feb 2009 at 2:02 pm #

    Sorry, all–I still think Facebook is just “greasy kid stuff,” like they used to say in the old commercials. It all seems so fake dorm-roomy, so “let’s all make hot cocoa (or jello shots) and pop popcorn and watch a movie in our jammies together!” I did that when I was 18 and 19–it was fun but it’s over now. But unlike my dorm popcorn and cocoa parties, which really were intimate, Facebook lulls people into a false kind of intimacy that conceals or blurs the fact that it is a very public fora.

    That said–if it’s your thing, that’s cool. I will never “friend” you, though–nothing personal. I don’t do social networking via a Social Networking (TM) software program. And, I’m against using the word “friend” as a verb. (If you insist on Facebook, please heed thefrogprincess’ advice and check your security settings.)

  5. GayProf on 03 Feb 2009 at 2:03 pm #

    Does this mean you aren’t going to friend me?

  6. Historiann on 03 Feb 2009 at 2:12 pm #

    Not even you, friend. BFFs?

  7. Rose on 03 Feb 2009 at 3:31 pm #

    @thefrogprincess — Thanks for the tip about the FB feature that “allows you to see your profile from the point of view of one of your friends.” How do you access it?

  8. ej on 03 Feb 2009 at 3:33 pm #

    Hey Rose-does the above question mean that you have a FB page? If so, you have to make me a friend.

    I do not share Historiann’s disdain for the site, but I agree about the use of friend as a verb.

  9. thefrogprincess on 03 Feb 2009 at 3:44 pm #

    @Rose: You click on settings in the upper right hand corner, then find the “Privacy” listing in the middle of the page and click on “manage.” Then click on “Profile” and you should see “See how a friend sees your profile.” Type in a friend, and you’re on your way. It’s not just the “front page” of the profile, btw, you can also see the photos, notes, wall messages, etc. that individual friends see. I suspect Jon Favreau wishes he’d known about this.

  10. Erica on 03 Feb 2009 at 4:06 pm #

    Even under-25 run a risk of being embarrassed by their own stupidity on Facebook — a 20-ish cousin of mine posted something about being arrested, then I asked another aunt if she knew what that was about, and after a couple days our whole family was asking about it. (It was minor and stupid, if I recall correctly, but still not a moment to be proud of. The next status update was something about “dammit now everyone is asking about that”. WELL DUH?!?)

    I use Facebook because it’s a nice casual way to keep updated with distant friends and relatives (particularly when I’ve recently moved away from most of them and am slow to make new in-person contacts). However, I don’t plan to ever use it for extensively connecting with colleagues or professors/students. It’s social media, not professional networking media.

    The most “dangerous” thing I’ve got in my profile is the indication that I’m a member of “HEY FACEBOOK BREASTFEEDING IS NOT OBSCENE” group, and if somebody feels like trying to publicly shame me by exposing that, they’re welcome to try :P I think this falls under the “Anything one posts online should be something one would be comfortable explaining to a boss” category, which is a very reliable metric of “is this really a good idea” — good suggestion Nicole!

  11. nicolec on 03 Feb 2009 at 5:07 pm #

    While I hear your concerns Historiann, I do think Facebook accounts will provide a goldmine sources wise for future historians…I often talk to my students about the impact of digital pictures (we are able to control what pics are kept etc). Self construction/projection via the internet…hmmmm.
    I think some really fascinating work will come of out all of this!

    Another stupid thing a lot of people seem to do is to “friend” every person they know. My rule of thumb- if I don’t socialize with you in the real world, I’m not going to in cyberspace- and if that hurts your feels- we wouldn’t socialize in the real world anyway so I don’t care.

  12. Historiann on 03 Feb 2009 at 5:20 pm #

    Nicole, you make a great point about source material for future historians. Historians of the 21st Century will have a treasure trove of materials about what a bunch of shallow dumba$$es everyone was back in the olden days. Note: if you’re a person from the future reading this, please remember that there was one voice crying out in the wilderness: Historiann!

    Clearly I’m outnumbered here! Erica wrote, “It’s social media, not professional networking media.” I know that this is how my friends use it, but my point is that I don’t think that’s a policeable and defensible distinction. Many people use it for professional networking, others use it to post drunk and naked photos of themselves and their “friends” on it, and my guess is that those of you who have commented on this thread use it as something in-between. Like all new technologies, it’s too early to say where social networking sites will go, but my bet is that like the internet in general, they’ll trend more professional and corporate.

  13. Penny on 03 Feb 2009 at 6:50 pm #

    Definitely well over 25, but not a scion nor an heiress, and dearly hope never to be hired to be “professional” or “corporate”–so I can enjoy Facebook all I like, wheeee!

    I don’t post anything online that my mom shouldn’t find–because she reads my blog and can see me on Facebook too. Along with my cousins, my neighbors, my elementary school friends and people who knew me during the ugly teen years. I figure they’ll all keep me honest (no self-mythologizing), and knowing they’re watching is enough to make me careful about content.

    (We certainly know plenty of 40-something engineers on there, too. Not all employers care what you do in your personal life.)

  14. Historiann on 03 Feb 2009 at 7:49 pm #

    That’s another good rule–if you don’t have a boss (or don’t care what your boss thinks, or don’t have a boss who cares) then think if you’d be proud to have your mother take a gander. Good one, Penny!

  15. ortho stice on 03 Feb 2009 at 9:07 pm #

    I love my Facebook! It reflects the real, virtual me. Unlike my blog, which might be written by a persona that is an ironic parody of the real, virtual me.
    OS

  16. PhDinHistory on 03 Feb 2009 at 9:27 pm #

    Historiann: Why live your life afraid that your words will leak out to the public? Don’t you think it would be more liberating to live transparently? Am I right in thinking that you agree with Mills Kelly that twitter is stalking?

  17. Sisyphus on 03 Feb 2009 at 10:05 pm #

    Hey! I like facebook! Not only do I keep in touch with all my cohort-members who went off to jobs and postdocs the past couple years, but all the grads in other departments who I met through unionizing and other political stuff that was interdisciplinary keep in touch that way too!

    I get to hear not only about what it is like to be a new English prof from across the country, but I’ve heard about how tough it is to set up your own lab and to have a joint soc/ws appointment — and none of those people are close enough friends that we’d be visiting or emailing each other without facebook.

    That said, I would never have drunken pictures of myself, but I could see myself getting in trouble for complaining about the mountains of grading, or talking about how I am always procrastinating. But really, isn’t that just being human?

  18. Roxie on 03 Feb 2009 at 10:22 pm #

    Despite how impressed I am with the “evil of banality” line, I must say something I never thought I would say: You are wrong, Historiann. The moms both use FB to varying degrees (Moose more fanatically than Goose, though both ended up doing the 25 things thing that consumed much of the non-Super Bowl part of the nation’s attention this past weekend). Moose has her privacy settings set very low, because she often uses FB to promote the program she directs on campus or to communicate with the students in it. Thus, she is extremely mindful of speaking to mixed or multiple audiences in everything she posts there and feels pretty confident she’ll never do anything as dumb as the poor prof profiled in the Chronicle story.

    Still, she is intrigued by the forms of friendship and social communication she sees happening there. Your dorm-room analogy just doesn’t fit, at least among the grown-ups Moose mostly hangs w/ on FB. It’s more like the kind of intimacy that might get established over drinks at a professional conference — except that it’s a little less frenetic, the drinks are cheaper, and, yes, you can do it in your jammies.

    Not trying to convince you or anything. Just sayin’ it’s intriguing, and we feel like we’re learning something worthwhile about 21st-century sociality.

  19. Historiann on 03 Feb 2009 at 10:54 pm #

    I hear you, I hear you! But, since I’ve painted myself into a comfy corner, it’s not like I can make a Facebook account and go check out your pages, can I?

    No technology is inherently good or inherently evil. I know Facebook is just software. I just have seen a lot of stories that revolve around the plot line that someone has not recognized or respected reasonable boundaries in social networking sites. Granted, these are stories that revolve around the sensational and the tragic (“Prof says stupid things!” “Neighborhood parent hounds teen to suicide!”) but it is a powerful medium to put in the hands of young people who can’t conceptualize next week, let along the potentially decades-long consequences of posting something embarassing on Facebook at age 15. For myself, I just don’t see what they offer that I can’t get through other media. And if that means I miss out on people’s photos of their vacations, children, and pets–well, that’s my cross to bear.

    It sounds like since all of you are doing Facebook, it’s on the way to no longer being the hip thing that all of the kids are doing because no grownups understand it. (By this I mean no offense–it’s just my guess that all commenters here are 25+.) So maybe it’s on its way to being corporatized, professionalized, and monetized already, in the manner of all youth fads in recent history, many of which no longer fall into the “fad” category.

  20. Professor Zero on 03 Feb 2009 at 11:39 pm #

    FB is fun, though, and you don’t have to have indiscreet things on it.

  21. thefrogprincess on 03 Feb 2009 at 11:42 pm #

    “It sounds like since all of you are doing Facebook, it’s on the way to no longer being the hip thing that all of the kids are doing because no grownups understand it.”

    Absolutely. Those of us (and yes, I am 25+ but only by a little bit) for whom Facebook was something that started out as a networking site among a few dozen colleges and universities are now handling a different beast. I’m less taken back by the reappearance of old high school friends whose new last names send you back to that old yearbook and more by old high school teachers, choir directors, church leaders, mentors, and others whose lives are now visible to me in extraordinary detail. It’s a bit unnerving to see someone you called “Miss So-and-so” less than ten years ago now become a peer of sorts who has detailed posts about her personal life.

  22. hysperia on 04 Feb 2009 at 1:15 am #

    I think FB should be restricted to users OVER 25 who have had a brain scan! I use it to keep in touch with family and friends, including young folk who might not talk to me ordinarily. No young person in my circle of aquaintance is allowed to have an account that’s kept private from family. Thus, when they err, which they do, there is a chorus of people telling them to “delete”. And I do hope that they think occasionally about who’s looking before they post.

    We have lots of fun on FB and from my POV that’s cool, as long as it doesn’t become the centre of anybody’s life. It took some of us (including me) awhile to realize the disastrous potential of the e-mail which gets fired off so quickly, can go to exactly the wrong person and can be forwarded to people who hate you. I think I’ve got the hang of it now. But I do agree that the potential for these technologies to be destructive to those who mess up is just huge.

    One thing that bothers me is the potential for information sharing by the network “owners”. Thus far, such intrusions have been fended off. I don’t expect that to last.

  23. Another Damned Medievalist on 04 Feb 2009 at 12:27 pm #

    Well, I know plenty of students who don’t want us to have facebook!

    But I have an account. I have it so my students can find me online under my real name, and hope it means they won’t look much deeper. And I use it to keep in touch with a bunch of RL friends and family (and some blogfriends who are RL friends even though we haven’t actually met in person yet — if that makes sense). But I also minimize all the stuff in my profile, make most things viewable only to friends, and am very careful about what I post (I said I was depressed once, and a couple of students showed up to make sure I was OK!). I also never add students to my Facebook list unless it’s at their request, and only write on their walls in response to their posts on mine. And I haven’t run into the issue of students wanting me to play any of the game apps.

    OTOH, I have had students IM me in Facebook, send me occasional private messages, and send me links to things. I tell them how much of their lives I can see, and ask them to think carefully before posting — and have nailed a couple on using Facebook in class. I think maybe I feel differently about it than you do because I see it as being clearly connected to the ADM in her SLAC role. Students see that I have a life, and friends who aren’t at SLAC, and a few relatives, but I can limit my exposure. The hard part was getting a couple of relatives to understand that I really don’t want them sharing details about my personal life or using my friends list to sell Amway!

  24. Historiann on 04 Feb 2009 at 8:37 pm #

    p.s. to you all: you haven’t sold me on the wonders, and it still sounds all very jammy-party-with-popcorn-and-cocoa to me, but I thank you for “friending” me with your insights. There’s an article on this today in Inside Higher Ed, and much to my surprise, he’s more on my side of the Facebook fence than yours.

    But, hey–this is the West, ain’t it? “It’s your misfortune and none of my own!” If you’re happy, I’m happy, and let’s have a beer and a bump to seal the deal, OK?

  25. Burn this after reading : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present on 24 Feb 2009 at 9:12 pm #

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