Academic Leigh Speaking

A professor, four kids, and a crash course in work/life balance

Facebook Friends or Not? May 18, 2010

Filed under: Social Media — leighj @ 6:10 pm

Others, columnists and advice givers I respect, have weighed in on privacy, friendships with exs, and pictures of children, breastfeeding, etc. on Facebook. I haven’t seen much on people that we’re friends with but haven’t seen in 10 years and have no intention of seeing again. Should we be friends with these people?

Recently one of my friends has left Facebook because of the annoying status updates of people he knew in high school and he became self-conscious about his own status updates, thinking they would make him seem outside this prescribed norm. Didn’t most of us leave high school in the first place thinking we would move on to other things, ideas, and experiences? But this means that he and I aren’t friends anymore on Facebook, and it was a convenient place for this non-texter to make arrangements for lunch.

I’ve been feeling ambivalent lately about being friends with, and having my news feed fill up with, people I don’t really intend to see again. If we were going to have a meaningful, even if truncated, relationship that involved face to face interaction once in a while, I’d be all for the continued contact. As it is, I feel voyeuristic. For people who I’ve become better friends with through the internet, even if we don’t see each other, the contact is worth it. But I feel like now, I keep up with these people anyway and we have something in common, like my fellow English grad student/new mom/blog friend Catherine, who puts things much better than I do most days. It wouldn’t be a big deal if I didn’t waste so much time on Facebook, which is probably where the solution needs to come from. Thoughts?


5 Responses to “Facebook Friends or Not?”

  1. Catherine Says:

    David talks about deleting his entire facebook account on a regular basis, and I can’t really blame him. I try to be very discerning about who I’ll be friends with on facebook, but I admit to adding people to be nice only to instantly hide the from my newsfeed.

    I would like to give up facebook. I would waste so much less time and not have any of the frustration it can bring (such as one non-friend writing on Mother’s Day that women who have had abortion should use the day to feel ashamed; I only saw it b/c one of my friends told him how awful it was). But it’s also SO handy. I’ve reconnected with people on it; I get to keep up with friends’ babies (for those who don’t update elsewhere). Right now keeping it seems like the lesser of the evils.

    But I think you have inspired me to clean up my friends list. Off to do that right now!

  2. mmg Says:

    You can “hide” people from your newsfeed– that’s what I do. I don’t have to delete people just so that I don’t have to see their posts (or feel guilty about deleting them). Also, I utilize the “friends lists.” Sounds neurotic, but it allows me to post stuff for certain audiences. BTW, FB has made it VERY difficult to delete “friends.”

    Delete your facebook, Leigh?! Don’t do it.

  3. Amanda Hughes Says:

    Noah also threatens to delete his facebook account for the same reasons mentioned above. I find that facebook is today’s bumper sticker. People use it as a way to promote a certain image of themselves, whether it is true or not. It is a brag, bitch, and spy board wrapped up in one package. On several occasions, I deleted my post out of fear. Fear that I lacked imagination. Fear that I seemed too affected. Fear that it revealed my true politics. I’m not sure how good facebook is for the soul. Do we really need to know that a friend you sat with in algebra class is now off to do the laundry? Facebook alters my image of certain individuals and not for for the good, which makes me wonder if I evoke the same emotion in others. I worry that we sacrifice our relationships that are in the here and now in our furious effort to hold onto the tidbits of yesterday. Who knows, maybe my fear and anxiety about facebook will dwindle as we develop more etiquette and boundaries. I guess for now, I will be hopeful and continue to resist the thoughtless post.

  4. leighj Says:

    @ Catherine–I fully admit to using Facebook to look at baby pictures all day long! So much fun.
    @ Myrriah–I’m not going anywhere (probably) and you have nothing to worry about when I trim my friends list. I don’t even mind students friending me because they (or I) might need recs. Easy to stay in touch.
    @ Amanda–The desire to not seem any of the things you mention causes me to severely limit my status updating.

  5. Stephanie Patterson Alderdice Says:

    I’ve been making major efforts to cut back on my time on Facebook. I have a tendency to mull over the frustrating comments that Catherine indicated and that usually goes double if it’s something questionable that a speech kid posts. (Ah…the student/coach internet dynamic, such a complicated dance.) I always feel compelled to respond to things that, in the long run, are inconsequential.

    I don’t mind the random updates from old acquaintances. I’ve been able to get back in touch with a few old friends and have been really relieved to chat with other folks jumping into this whole parenting gig. Seeing as how we don’t have other ‘parent friends’ in Bowling Green, I love looking at other people’s photos, updates and asking questions. (Which you’re going to get a few when we meet up for dinner tomorrow!)

    Good job on maintaining the blog. I’m trying to learn by example to be a bit more proactive with mine!

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