Now, I won’t argue against the fact that there is more negative attention drawn towards the overlap of Facebook and academics nowadays, but is it so wrong to officially friend a mentor? It’s no extraordinary fact that educators and students are connecting on the social networking site, and that it may not be so bad if it is handled appropriately.
I myself am able to get in touch with a few of my professors and have access to intellectual blogs and links that they post. It’s also nice to be able to drop a “hello” when I haven’t spoken to them in a while, and get a quick response.
Teachers reportedly enjoy keeping in touch with their students and giving them advice, as a Houston High School teacher did when talking to a student about choosing a major. Careers could be at stake if the medium is abused and privacy settings aren’t customized, but that is entirely at the fault of the student or professor for not becoming a savvy user.
Students and teachers can arguably make a point to be responsible and choose better vehicles for venting and tighten the reigns on what they share. With more sites like these available, we as communicators need to form a different etiquette when speaking in public forums to people we want to make a good impression upon.
And who could reject the Facebook friendship as a possible opportunity to network? There are career benefits, especially when you know someone who is well-versed in your field of study and interested in helping you.
Let’s face it; Facebook is the new e-mail messenger. We rely on Facebook immensely to communicate: we set it as our home page, we install the app on our phones, and we check it at least once a day. It’s accessible and visually pleasing, so why not take the opportunity to connect with our educators who can benefit us through such a popular medium?
I, along with almost every other student at any other university have logged on to their Facebook accounts and randomly decided to search for some of their favorite professors. However, when that profile appears on the screen, a moral dilemma suddenly hits you in the stomach like a ton of bricks; should you request to be their friend?
This question has puzzled our generation for many years and it rightly should. If you find a professor to be a mentor to you, then what is the problem with adding them to the list of people that you want to receive your random status updates?
There is one simple argument against adding your professor on Facebook: it’s too risky.
This is not saying that you might post a status update about how much you dislike a professor’s class and that professor just happens to stumble across it in the cyber abyss that is Facebook.
It’s about what your friends might post on your wall for all your friends, including your professors, might see.
You have no control about what people post on your wall or what photos you are tagged in. Before you can say, “But I can change my privacy settings!”, it might be too late. The pictures from the party that you were at last night might end up on the Facebook front page.
That wall post by a friend might turn out to reveal something very embarrassing to you that is now open to your friends.
The point is that you are more than welcome to add your professors on Facebook, but only if you are willing to take the risk that that professor might find a piece of information about you that they might deem inappropriate. Use caution, prepare your privacy settings, and remember to think twice before you press that “Add as Friend” button.