Face Invaders!

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I am not a user of Facebook. Many people tell me that this is a problem, since so many people actually use Facebook…apparently for a disturbing number of hours per day. Heck…about seven hours per month, for the average Facebook user. Take those roughly 400 minutes per month, divide by thirty days in a month, and you get about fifteen minutes per day…which actually sounds reasonable. Still, apparently when you deprive a significant number of people of their social media, they react worse than when you deprive nicotine addicts of their cigarettes. It seems like a dangerous precedent.

Proponents of Facebook tell me that it is “a great way to catch up with people that you have lost touch with.” I suppose it is…although that assumes that I didn’t lose touch with those people on purpose. It’s amazing how I’m willing to attempt to maintain connections with people who matter, without falling back on the impulse driven social media “friend request” as a driving force.

Still…I am not completely divorced from the effects of Facebook, even not being a member, and that’s what today’s post is all about. A friend that I did stay in touch with recently posted a picture of some people that I knew in college, and that was brought to my attention almost instantly by the one degree of separation. For a moment, there was a grim feeling of old grudges, and then, a sort of satisfaction. The fact was…I didn’t have those people in my lives anymore, and except for that tiny tangential contact, wouldn’t. In its own way, it totally justified my lack of Facebook use.

My students, on the other hand, have no Facebook discretion. they post everything to it, including images of themselves fighting, incriminating videos, and pics of themselves getting high. In terms of disciplinary enforcement, social media takes us away from needing a statement from students about what happened, and makes an event more of a Facebook: CSI episode.

Sadly, those selfsame students have almost no idea how accessible and indelible such information is on the internet.

College admission officers are increasingly turning to Facebook and Google searches to research candidates, and they don’t always like what they find there. Kaplan polled “350 admissions officers from the nation’s top 500 colleges and universities.” This is what they found:

While the percentage of admissions officers who took to Google (27%) and checked Facebook (26%) as part of the applicant review process increased slightly (20% for Google and 26% for Facebook in 2011) from last year, the percentage that said they discovered something that negatively impacted an applicant’s chances of getting into the school nearly tripled – from 12% last year to 35% this year. Offenses cited included essay plagiarism, vulgarities in blogs, alcohol consumption in photos, things that made them “wonder,” and “illegal activities.” In 2008, when Kaplan began tracking this trend, only one in 10 admissions officers reported checking applicants’ social networking pages.

For those bad at math (and unable to get into M.I.T.), that means it’s almost tripled since 2008. More surprising is the huge spike in negative things found. Apparently, the class of 2012 lived it up.

Things to think about, as a teacher in the modern world of internet social media. Despite the district shilling my students as “digital natives,” they have almost no idea how their online identities can follow them, until long after they actually want them to. This is an entirely new type of counseling that teachers need to provide, and one that precious few are prepared to.

Although…having seen my ex on Facebook, I am only too glad to have a limited digital presence. Clearly, “Secret Invasion” was part of the art inspiration here, as well as a general scorn for social media and exes in general. Take from that what you will, True Believers.

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