I have been a Facebook user for nearly 5 years now. I do enjoy being part of this wonderful fraternity. It has brought so many people closer to me - those I would not have been in touch, thanks to the hustle and bustle of life. It takes me back to good old times and the people from those days when pictures are posted and then tagged. It has also been the quickest means of communicating with all of them. I remember to have met with scores of my former students during my summer holidays by just communicating about my visit over FB.
I am grateful to FB for having brought to my peripheral vision very many students whom I have taught in at least half a dozen schools. Many of them are whom I know well for they were my students; some who know me as I have taught their older sibling(s); a few who have just heard about me as a teacher – all eager to share updates of their personal and professional lives with me. Then there are former colleagues and friends. College mates – classmates, juniors and seniors. These networks are so powerful and through these networks we have been able to organize get togethers and alumni associations as well.
At some point in time I realized that so many people require some kind of motivation in their lives. This made me have a page called Charaiveti for that purpose alone, where I post uplifting messages. To my team members, I have opened a group which I administer. I make it a point to share with them any interesting piece of information regarding teaching and learning, educational technology, interesting careers, online courses and MOOCs and so on. For other educator friends I share those links in a different page called Aware Teachers.
It is quite gratifying to see through FB that our former students have spread their wings, earned Most Valuable Professional titles, shouldered responsibilities both professional and personal. Those are priceless moments when we as educators feel rewarded, and the reiteration dawns on you that, yes, we are in the right profession.
FB also gives me a space to comment and reflect on day-to-day happenings, be it the Delhi Gang Rape, the cloudburst at Uttarkhand or even closer home the travails of a coalition government that gets knotted even more complexly even as it tries to extricate out of messes they create.
Many of us family members are also on FB and that is also a great way to stay updated. Instead of posting invitations by snail mail, I uploaded the invitation of my daughter’s marriage to inform everyone and to invite them for the same. Yes, I am very active on FB and as of today have 1403 friends! Over 75% of them are my students who form a huge slice of the pie of my life!!
However, I find some irksome habits in some of my FB friends. Things that are part of social media etiquette. You might be a hard core fan of Chefville or Farmville or other thousands of ‘ville’ games the FB offers. I am not. So it would be nice if you could stop sending me request for any games.
Oh, yes! You have an idol or a brand – NaMo or Coke for example. Why should you assume that I too share your passion? I may not. In fact, I will not. I would like to read, think, rationalize and come to my own choice of opinion. And that is my own opinion – in a democracy I am entitled to mine right? So, I would be delighted if you could stop sending me suggestions to like pages & shares, unless they are to me harmless ones like say Optimists’ Creed or something as inspirational and patriotic as the Unity Song: http://bit.ly/15Cvxt7
Then, there are friends who tag others for anything and everything. Here too I would advise you to tread the careful path. Many don’t like tagging and I have seen some people in my friend circles flying off the handle because they have been tagged. I don’t mind being tagged one picture or a post – but definitely not in one with something I dislike / am uncomfortable about. Like say, KFC or Dunkin Doughnuts. That is not my style!
Now, with comments, one can upload pictures too. I find that some silly picture of a funny scene in a movie with a punch line uploaded along with the comment – not in mine but in others’ walls. This is most distasteful and an insult to the person who has updated his status. I wish people would resort to this only to substantiate something – not to poke fun on somebody.
Then there are ‘friends’ who will explode when you share some information. There will be comments, counter comments and altogether it gets into a gooey mess. I have had this experience and finally had to delete comments that were not very charitable. In this digital space it is worth remembering that each one is entitled to hold his or her own view. So why would you want to comment on the appropriateness of the post – it is the sweet will and pleasure of the person concerned; unless, the post is about you. I think most of us don’t do that.
So, let us face-book peacefully and without infringing others’ space. In that case, I will be most happy to be an FB friend of yours!