My Mom Facebooked Me

I spent a good chunk of my afternoon at the annual Women’s Law Caucus luncheon, which this year honored soon-t0-be retiring UK Law Executive Dean Carolyn Bratt.   The luncheon was attended by over one hundred members of the Lexington legal community, Judges, as well as UK Law Faculty and students.  I sat with a group of students since sitting with lawyers and hearing about their 60 hour work weeks usually depress me.

Admittedly, I was zoned out for most of the lunch, thinking about ideas for my upcoming SEALL talk.  When I refocused on the table conversation, I realized the students were speaking – let’s say not favorably – about a faculty member at the law school.   I don’t even no who they were talking about, but at the exact instant that I focused in, one of the students realized I was sitting there and gave the sideways head nod in my direction to the speaker as if to say, “SHUT UP.”

At that moment, I realized that for at least some of the students, I had become “The Man.”

So what does this have to do with Web 2.0?  Well…I, like many educators on Facebook, struggle with the question of whether or not we belong on Facebook.   And if we do decide to be there, how we should behave.  Are we their “friends”? Does one “poke” a student?  Look at their profile?  Send good Karma their way?   I don’t have any answers to this, although there is a group of educators on Facebook (Faculty Ethics on Facebook) who are trying to come up with a set of guidelines for this activity.  Also see recent Chronicle articles here and here.

I recently was introduced to the feelings that my students may be having towards me when they come across my profile on Facebook.  About a month ago, I logged into Facebook to see that I had a friend request.  It was from my mother.  Yes, instead of wearing a t-shirt that says, “I Facebooked Your Mom”, I can now wear a t-shirt that says, “My Mom Facebooked Me.”  Unlike our disastrous MySpace experiment, she signed up for Facebook on her own initiative and seems to be sticking it out.

I think there’s a couple of reasons for this.  One, Facebook is much more private and she’s not getting bombarded with friend requests from strangers.  Two, her students (Have I mentioned my mom is a high school Sex Ed teacher lately? *shudder* Feel. My. Pain. ) are teenagers and thus primarily on MySpace.  Finally, and this is why I think Facebook is better than MySpace, is that she is really enjoying the applications.  Especially Srabbulous.  My mom is a FIEND for Scrabbulous.  (And, I’ll have the good folks at Hasbro know, we’re enjoying it so much that we’re probably going to go out and purchase a physical set so we can play when I’m at the farm. )  She’s not so big on the virtual gifts, though, but I have to run to a meeting in about a minute and can’t go into details about that fun experience.

But it has had some weird moments.  Like when she e-mailed me to see if I was feeling better and she only knew that because I happened to put it in my status message that I was sick. (I generally try to keep my parents on a need-to-know basis when it comes to me being sick since I’d hate for them to worry.)  And I’m waiting for the inevitable quiz down about my male friends on the site.   But so far so good, I guess.  If she can handle it, so can I.

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