Declaring an interest (or lack of): Facebook

A week’s holiday and I’m behind on 23 Things again, so playing catch up as quickly as I can. The week I was on holiday was Facebook and LinkedIn. Some of you who know me may have been suspicious that I ran away to the other then of the UK specifically to avoid these social networking sites. I’ve been trying to write this post for a few days and failing. Apologies in advance.

Facebook cartoon

I’m not a fan of Facebook, I just don’t “like” it and never have. I do realise this is primarily my problem and that the social networking types are leaving me behind but Facebook makes me feel like writing a Miss Crail-style rant (if only I had her talent for disliking things with a passion!). I checked the list of 23 Things that this programme would cover and was hugely relieved that the Facebook Thing only looked at library Facebook pages, if it had required much personal “facebooking” it would have been a dealbreaker for me and I’d have had to kiss all hope of that voucher goodbye.

Facebook is not for me. I do, to my own surprise, have an account. I set it up in the very early days when a good friend who is also a librarian invited me (made a friend request, whatever it’s called) and I didn’t realise exactly what it was. I promptly found myself “friended” by a friend from undergraduate days, the person who supervised my library Masters dissertation, someone I was at school with, a very good friend who lives in another city and someone I knew (vaguely) socially in Cambridge.

Scream

This is the stuff of nightmares for me. These were all people from completely separate spheres of my life, from almost completely separate personae as far as I was concerned (see my Batgirl post earlier). I found it incredibly uncomfortable seeing them all in one place. Yes, I know that’s probably an odd reaction. I did try to delete my account. Only to find that it was pretty much impossible so I deactivated it for a while. I reactivated it when my little brother moved to Korea so I could see what was going on with him (he refused to really keep in contact by any other means, though he’s now dealt with his own privacy issues by posting only in Korean so I still have no idea what is going on in his life. He does put up some fantastic photos, at least). I don’t make friend requests, I try not to add friends, I don’t post status updates. I will admit it’s quite nice to see updates from people that I genuinely like and that I am not good at keeping in touch with. However, I feel it’s a bit of an unfair relationship where all I do is lurk and read (sometimes intimate) details of their life while not sharing any of my own. I feel I will be deleting my account properly some time soon.

All of that is irrelevant, however, as it’s about my personal feeling about Facebook, whereas the instructions required us to look at library pages/groups. I read everything suggested and it was interesting. Concerns about privacy and “invading social space” come up, but also some positive points. The library pages suggested were nicely presented and did show some (limited) evidence of interaction with users, though no real discussions as such. Maybe that takes place somewhere that a non-group member cannot see. I fully accept that Facebook is hugely popular and that the vast majority of students (both undergraduate and postgraduate) will spend a large amount of time on Facebook, doing all the edifying, informative things that are available there. So I can see some merit in trying to have a library presence there. However, nothing I have read or seen as part of this investigation has changed my basic attitude to Facebook personally or my scepticism about its place in library interactions with users.

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4 comments so far

  1. LinkedIn « Thing blogging on

    […] 2010 Filed under: Things | Tags: hypocrite, linkedin, networking, professional, Thing 17 | Having ranted about Facebook and outlined my aversion to the whole social network thing, I’m going to do an immediate […]

  2. Library Wanderer on

    Your point about discussions with library users is very interesting. I said on my blog that our library’s facebook fan page is a channel of information rather than of communication–we don’t expect our students to use facebook to contact us, and if they did I fear they wouldn’t get a speedy response! This does seem to be a reinterpretation of facebook’s aims because one of its key features is that, unlike Twitter, facebook is a two-way street. However, it’s one of the sources of my lingering unease about our use of facebook. I’m not sure that our idea of how it is used and will be used is clearly enough delineated.

  3. Céline on

    I suppose as a non-Facebook user, I do see the main thing about fb being the communication – the less formal interaction than a library webpage. I was also just looking for any evidence of how much use/interest is generated by these library pages and it was hard to tell really.

    I’m on shaky ground though, as I really don’t get fb at all so am hardly qualified to comment!

  4. cl@cam on

    I completely agree with Library Wanderer, the FB page – or any other Web 2.0 tool – should be seen as informative or complemental channels of communication, but never expect these to replace the formal ways of contact with your users. As you mentioned, is very difficult to see if a FB page is successful or not, but as you read on my blog the statistics showed something different. It’s very clear from your post your dislike on FB, but if after 23 Things you feel tempted to create a FB page for your library and would like to know more about numbers and what’s behind it, please let me know and I’ll be more than happy to help.


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