Time to re-evaluate my personal outlook on social media (see Dec. 31 New Year’s Resolution post). This month, I traveled to Austin for the Texas Computer Education Association Convention, where the buzz word was Web 2.0. While some teachers are just becoming familiar with the term, others consider it “old hat” and are talking about Web 3.0, 3D web, or the Semantic Web.
Social media and social networking provide many benefits to users, but I have been struggling for the past year or two about how to balance my personal life online with my professional life online. Close friends and family members use social networking only for posting pictures and personal messages. My PLN (professional learning network) uses social networking for sharing new trends and educational content. Although I have numerous social network accounts (Nings, Myspace, Facebook, MyTLA, Linkedin, Googlegroups, Yahoogroups, and ALA Connect come to mind), my goal is to consolidate and simplify the daily barrage of information.
In the past couple of months, both my Library Supervisor and my University Director have suggested utilizing Facebook and requested I befriend their pages. I feel obliged to honor that request, even though I have not come to grips with my own use.
I purchased Laura Solomon’s book, entitled, Doing Social Networking So it Matters in hope of finding a meaningful purpose for FB. While it didn’t take me long to understand the best use of twitter (sharing information with those who have the same interests), I admit to being a reluctant FB “fan” to the point of being obstinate. Solomon’s book points out that social capital is best achieved through a long-term participation in community. Using social media strictly for marketing becomes apparent quickly. I found Doing Social Networking So it Matters a great guide for best practices in libraries. Now that my supervisor suggests using FB, I am rethinking my position, even though I am an elementary school librarian. I think secondary schools, public libraries, and academic libraries would have more reason to utilize FB.
So…have I made progress with my NY resolution?
Two bosses encouraged me to use FB. Laura Solomon’s book encouraged me to understand best practices in libraries. But, I still had this inside battle raging between the personal identity and the professional identity. Facebook does not make it easy to post to limited audiences. I speak in different voices- to nieces, to co-workers, or to distant friends.
Last weekend, during a lovely warm sunset, I brought the subject up to my husband. He has been listening patiently to my rants about FB for months. He has heard me discuss my distaste for the trivial nonsense and my fear of becoming a stuffy old academic who only values educational materials!
So, across the patio table on this lovely weekend evening, I asked, “The whole world seems obsessed with Facebook and I just can’t seem to figure out the point. What do you think I should do?”
His simple answer has given me much thought this week. In fact, it amazed me. He said, “I think you should just be nice!”