Friday, November 5, 2010

Social Networks


Recently I asked the Facebook world how they feel about Linked In. I get an invite about once a week, and wondered if it would be a good use of my time to create a profile. Do people use it? Is it helpful? Or would it be “just one more online source I won’t check or use anyway” (aka a procrastination tool for desperate times). The conclusion reached via facebook, in the words of one friend, is that it isn’t actually helpful for “pastor-types.” So I’ll skip it and stick to my blog and facebook, thank you.

It did get me thinking about the role of Facebook, though. What began as a “social network” for college students only, we know has now greatly changed, both in its use and in its function. I’ve become increasingly less picky as to who I add as “friends” these days, especially now that I’m living overseas. For obvious reasons, I am now unable to communicate as often with my family and friends in the US as I used to, and if used well, the online world can almost always offer an update of sorts on my life (either through pictures and status updates on Facebook, or here on my blog).

One thing about Facebook I have always said is that I don’t want to feel like I have to screen it or worry about what my friends might post. So “when I am appointed at a church,” I would say, “I’ll open a separate professional profile.” But now that seems like it would be a bit pointless, because the reality is, I won’t want to upkeep two profiles.

The other side of that is: I don’t feel I can just not “add friends,” either. So I have “friends” I have never met. Some are friends of friends, some are professional contacts. Some are church people who have supported me but I have never met face to face. Some are even people I indirectly work for (try saying no to that!) but have not yet met in a face-to-face encounter.

And all of the sudden, this Facebook thing that I always called a “social network” has become more than just “social.” I mean, I’m the girl that refused to add my mother as a Facebook “friend” because I insist that if she wants to know what’s going on in my life, she should pick up the phone and call me! But now I’m a world away and am increasingly less picky with who my “Friends” are - and I wonder: is there any point to such a filter?

So I’m curious, and looking for feedback. What do you think? Separate profiles? Give up on having a separation between a “personal” and “professional” page? Just say no? I wouldn’t want to hide my current page, I do want actual friends to be able to find and connect with me. But I also really like having a line between my personal and professional life, as well as a means of separation (such as when I leave a church someday and need to break ties as I start fresh at a new church). Is that break possible if I also have a life that is often communicated through the interwebs?

oh, the internet… and to think I haven’t even had a computer for ten years. and now I can’t imagine life without it...

1 comment:

Sarah said...

The other possibility is lists, and setting privacy based on the group. So, if you need to cut ties from an old church then you change the privacy restrictions for that group. I did that when I started getting camper friend requests. I have a PH group, but I also have a camper group, and the camper group has a much more limited view of my profile. Once they are 18 or no longer campers then they go to the full profile view.