Using Facebook well

The CCC Blogfrence (#cccbf) has been going on these last few days. One conversation in particular has caught my attention. Russ posted about tithing 10% of your campus ministry time online, using facebook etc. At first I didn’t think the concept was that revolutionary to me because I do spend a lot of time on facebook and twitter connecting with students. But what developed in the comments became helpful. The concept of “hot hours” on facebook vs. on campus was a good thing to note.

Then Brian replied on his own blog asking about a conversation that had developed in the comments to Russ’s post in how we use facebook to connect with our financial supporters. This struck a nerve of sorts with me and it really indicates something about how I use social media/networking.

There are certain boundaries around my life that I keep and that is true of my facebook use and whom I accept as friends on facebook. I don’t accept just anyone – I friend people who I am really friends with and who I’m comfortable seeing my phone number and any pictures that are posted of me, or notes that I’m tagged in etc. I still struggle with the fact that facebook is open to the “general public” and not just students or people my age, because somehow I feel it’s strange for me to be connecting with people my parent’s age on facebook. Not only is it strange, I just don’t feel very comfortable allowing them to see all the things I post, the links and the comments. Somehow I find it invasive when someone wants to friend me if they are over 35 (unless they work with me).

I’m not sure why I feel the need to have these boundaries around my life that I have no problem being public information for a certain demographic. Perhaps it’s the discomfort already involved with people who don’t fully understand our job. When people wonder why I’m posting on facebook regularly throughout the day – what they don’t know is that I’m checking it while I’m waiting for a student to show up, or as I’m riding the elevator up to a meeting etc. Maybe I’m afraid to be “judged” by a generation that doesn’t understand the perpetual use of social media by my generation (or maybe just me who uses it perpetually).

So I don’t know if this is weird or an improper view of something that can be used as a “tool”. Perhaps what I need to do is find a way where I can feel comfortable about connecting with supporters on facebook, but making only certain information available to them using  the special profile options. Brian replied to my comment and suggested I make a second facebook profile but, as he said, it’s technically illegal by facebook standards & can get weird (what do you do when a supporter asks you why you have 2 profiles? Do you just say, “Well… I don’t really want you to see every aspect of my life so I keep you in a different zone”?)

I guess what I’m curious to know is, does anyone else get what I’m saying? Does anyone else see where I’m coming from or agree with me? Or does anyone have any suggestions on how to deal with this in a different way?

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3 thoughts on “Using Facebook well

  1. terra says:

    Yes, I can identify with this. And I think it is totally fine to have ‘boundaries’ as you put it. Perhaps in some instances having two profiles might be helpful (though who needs MORE things to manage?! not me!). Maybe this pushes us to answer personally: “what is the purpose of this account/profile?”. To be honest, I actually find it a bit strange using facebook for ministry when in reality I use it more often to connect with friends … the lines get blurry. If you are someone who can live with blur then go for it, but if you can’t I don’t think there is anything wrong with drawing some strong boundaries. You don’t need to give a piece of your online self to everyone who asks. 🙂
    – Terra

  2. Russ says:

    Jess, your line, “Maybe I’m afraid to be “judged” by a generation that doesn’t understand the perpetual use of social media by my generation (or maybe just me who uses it perpetually).”

    I too find I struggle with this. I often wonder, “If my boss doesn’t understand these tools and he finds out how much I use them will I get fired…”

    On the other hand, I think it’s a good opportunity to lead up and demonstrate how they can be used for redemptive purposes.

    It’s also made me think a lot about the importance of setting clear expectations and results. Then, employees can be freed up to make them happen. As a boss I shouldn’t be judging someone on their activity on Facebook if they are still getting the job done.

  3. Krystal says:

    I agree that it can be used as a tool to create relationships with supporters, co-workers, etc on the professional level. However, I strongly believe that if you are going to share pictures, links and things are personal on FB then boundaries are important.

    Use the privacy settings to keep those things to yourself and friends who won’t second guess your relationship after seeing a “questionable” photo or link.

    In regards to the second profile, you can always create a “group” or “business” page that connects you to students, supporters, or anyone who is interested on a professional level.

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