When acquaintenances become “friends” (Thing #22)

LIke IMing, I don’t see a lot of value to social networking sites for academic purposes.  They can be fun and they can be useful for professional networking, but beyond the marketing possibilities for schools, I think colleges and universities should steer clear of them.  There are some serious boundary issues involved here. My only cavaet to that is if you set up a niche network (such as Ning allows you to do).  The SLIS program at SJSU has such a bounded community.  I’ve joined, but I’m too busy with other things that I never use it.

The problems regarding (lack of) privacy are something I worry about.  A recent posting in iLibrarian pointed to the difficulty of actually leaving Facebook once you have established an account.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.  It certainly gives one reason to pause and reconsider whether this is something you want to participate in.

I’ve had an FB account since last November.  On the positive side of the ledger, I have been able to reconnect with a few people through the site.  On the other hand, I have received “friend requests” from people with whom I’m not really friends with, just acquaintenances, putting one in the awkward position of how to respond.  Say “yes” and they are suddenly a “friend,” which seems to water-down the meaning of the term.  Say “no” and you may alienate a person you don’t want to alienate, but with whom you just don’t want to share things with in this online space.  And I have been guilty too of sending friend requests to people I know and would be interested in hearing from, but with whom I have no real intention of staying in regular touch with.  It’s all a bit weird, to say the least.

On the whole, I’m more interested in using social networking for good-old-fashioned professional networking.  That’s why I also have a LinkedIn account.



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