I'm a teacher and today, we have been in meetings all day. One of the meetings was about online safety and it led to some interesting discussion that has left me thinking (and feeling vaguely uncomfortable).
Is Facebook so bad? It seems that whenever I speak to people, they like to go on about how they NEVER use Facebook, they lurk, they never put anything on there that other people might see, they wish they could hide more than they do. It leaves me feeling as if I somehow am missing something. I generally like Facebook (or should I say "like"?) I like keeping up with what people are doing, where they are going and what they are thinking about. My life is so busy and I am an introvert, I can't be out and about seeing all of these people all the time but it doesn't mean that I don't care about them. Is it too much information to know that someone's child is sick (so I might make a treat to drop by) or that their cat died (I might send a card or give a call)? Is it bad of me, when I'm feeling especially excited about something or worried or wanting more information, to ask other people with whom I have some things in common, to go on a post a message? Does this make me some kind of crazy person?
Sure, I know people who probably post too much information but for someone like me, I'm o.k. with that, usually. I like honesty, I like transparency, I value people who are out there and who share what they really think and feel. I don't like trying to figure out whether you really agree with someone or whether you might have another opinion. I suppose that some of it might be related to the fact that I am very careful in choosing friends that I opt for people who 1. are compassionate, 2. don't mind people who disagree and 3. who like to move beyond small talk (my introverted heart has trouble with small talk - if I don't feel like we are connecting, I feel like something is wrong). I probably am too "out" on Facebook for some people - I don't hide that I am a Christian, that I value compassion and social justice or that I love my family. I do call injustice when I see it and sometimes, that might make someone uncomfortable. I have a hard time seeing how that is a bad thing. I guess, on some level, it might be like not raising politics or religion at the dinner table but if these people are supposed to be "my friends", won't they still love me even if my opinion is different from theirs? Maybe, just maybe, there might be useful dialogue that comes from these Facebook discussions sometimes (provided that people behave with respect and I find that my friends do). My policy is that I don't say anything on Facebook that I would be ashamed to admit to (so yes, while I won't tell you that I can't stand this person I am working with, I might address an issue of concern to me in education if I feel that it is harming the well-being of children). I'd happily admit to my boss or my minister or my mom what I am saying, so why is it a bad thing? Maybe it might be potentially held again me down the road but I come from a family of political activists - data was being collected on them for their stands long before Google came along.
Am I naive or taking unnecessary risks or am I just having the courage to say what I think is right and potentially to risk pushing people a bit in their thinking? I'm not sure - I suppose this post sounds like I am entirely defending my position but that isn't entirely what I'm doing here. I think I'm still working it out. In the meantime, I probably won't shut up because I'm not good at that :-)