By Darren Johnson
If you don’t have one already, you should develop your own “social media policy,” and stick to it.
Here is mine:
On Facebook, I do not “friend” any current students or any current coworkers. Either group could bug me if they misconstrue my postings of Ramones lyrics, or if I post one of my rants about the state of journalism and the recent story about, say, McDonald’s ketchup.
They don’t need to know how my mind works.
After they move on (for students, to another college or to transfer; for coworkers, if they change jobs) or if I move on to a new location, then we can be virtual friends.
Interestingly, very few students I only knew through the classroom friend me, but many of the students I advised in clubs and via work study have sought me out. Likely I left a more lasting impression when I actually mentored as opposed to lectured to them.
Maybe that could be the model that saves higher education. Most colleges have a student to faculty ratio of about 20 to 1. Instead of having students take five courses with five different instructors, and instead of instructors teaching five courses with 100 different students, try this: Have each professor take on 20 students and they hang out together all semester on some big project that’s worth 15 credits. Wouldn’t you prefer that?
In any case, on Twitter, I really have no rules. I don’t really “get” the Twitter experience, though I know the site is growing in popularity with students. It may soon surpass Facebook. I mostly just use Twitter to post into the nethersphere. It’s a tree falling in the woods with no one around. It’s just not my nature to “follow.”
On YouTube, I don’t post enough to need a personal social media policy. I haven’t yet gotten into Instagram.
The social media site I like the most is LinkedIn. They have posting boards and the profiles are fuller than Facebook.
LinkedIn is like Facebook, except everyone on LinkedIn has a job (or at least is looking) – so few of my relatives are there!
On LinkedIn, I will allow current students and colleagues to connect to me. Somehow, that site just seems more formal and professional.
You never hear about someone having an improper relationship or getting abducted or fired because of LinkedIn. In any case, get yourself accustomed to the various social media you use and realize each has its own audience. Some people also suggest you create a bland, second Facebook account with really safe posts – just in case a prospective employer may ever check up on you. —DJ