I thought I would share a few of my own thoughts about using Facebook. I took a bit of a hiatus from it last year and was sorry that I did. I missed a wedding, two births, some good gossip, and sadly, an unexpected one-night visit from an elementary school friend who hadn’t been out here in years! These were all events that I would only have heard about after a “long trickle down the grapevine”.
I was introduced to Facebook three years ago by my then-27 year old son, when he wanted to show me some fishing photos he had taken. He said, “Oh, I’ll just show you where I’ve got them on Facebook, that’s way easier.” He signed me up too so that I could view the photos again later on. Yes, he did personally email me the “best” photos, but I got to enjoy the entire set of photos at my leisure. Within a week of joining, I had 3 friend requests from some of his old elementary school pals, who were a delight to reconnect with. Shortly thereafter, I got to see two “new babies” born to people who wouldn’t have emailed me personally, but whom I was thrilled to share in their happiness. Since then I have been able to catch snippets of daily life from both good friends and meaningful “aquaintances”. Viewing the photos is particularly worthwhile. I love seeing the photos taken by proud parents, world travelers and holiday-ers, and the silly get-togethers that the “young folks” enjoy. I must admit that I don’t put up that many photos myself, but every so often it’s nice to share one of my events with this network of friends and family.
One of my first concerns about Facebook was the prospect of “leaving myself open” to unknown or unwanted people. I can’t say that I actually have anything “notorious” going on, but I am careful not to engage in “Facebook babble” or upload ”questionable photos”. The latest Facebook security measures include a “Viewable to Friends Only” rating. I am not interested in meeting strangers. The people I invite as “Friends” are contacts I hear about via my original “Friends”… someone finds someone who then finds me or vice versa! I have even reconnected with “lost” family in other parts of the world!
Another aspect was the potential connection between students and/or their parents and me on Facebook. Some teachers I knew said, “No way” and others, mainly at high school, said they had no problem with it. I gave this a lot of thought. I like to write “mini” letters and thank you’s to my students via our “little red mailbox” and “mailslot” activity center in my class. I also collect parent email addresses at the start of the year and encourage them to contact me or the class via email. I decided that this was an interesting and “modern” way to form a network, but that I definitely wanted to keep my personal life and school life somewhat separate. I didn’t quite trust the “security by permissions” offered by Facebook, as I felt sure I would get it mixed up at some point. Instead, I used my school email to create a second Facebook account, giving my identity as “MrsFirstName” and “LastName” (Facebook won’t let you use “Mrs” as a first name). All requests to “be a Facebook Friend” from parents and students are directed to my “Teacher Facebook”. This has worked very well. I don’t elicit any “Friends” myself on this account, nor do I even mention it to my students. The photos I post are suitable for all my students and parents (never any student photos). I love seeing how ”grown-up” these old students of mine are… and that’s something I would never get to do any other way! I also have had contact with students from many years past. I have been able to keep in touch with several families who moved far away. It’s especially nice seeing those students! So far I have had only 3 “questionable” exchanges. One was a student using somewhat rude language (and I emailed him!). I deleted one student as a friend, (I actually never had her in my own class), because of her joining a highly inappropriate “club” (and I then posted a message, without using her name, to show my disapproval). One was a body-building lady parent, whose avatar often wore show-off-your-muscles outfits… not impolite, just a little out of “my world”.
My third account with Facebook was completely on a whim… I decided to start an account for my oldest and most travelled “stuffie”, aka Monty Moose! (I do stuffed animal exchanges.) Imagine my surprise when I found out that there are many OTHER travelling toys! Then try to picture this… there are manyother travelling STUFFED MOOSE!!! I was totally shocked when I… I mean Monty Moose… was asked to be a friend of another ”Monty Moose”… but from the United Kingdom! (How could there be another traveling Monty???) Since then, we have met many traveling moose of different sizes, shapes and locations. You will be laughing at this point… but there is more to come…I truly found out how CRAZY the human mind can be, when I received a friend request from a Squirrel Monkey, and actually had to think about whether a stuffed Moose should accept a stuffed Monkey as a friend on Facebook. You’ll be proud of us though… Monty and I decided that it just wouldn’t be right to be exclusively species-specific, so we made a new friend… and then created our own Facebook Group called “Moose of the World” !!!