What does a web-browsing teenager in the Bay Area share with the new Pope in the Vatican? What do the leaders of the G8 council share with potato farmers in northern Idaho? It’s simple: active Facebook accounts.
Facebook has expanded to almost every waking corner of the world. Its sheer size is staggering; according to estimates from Facebook’s Advertising Department, Facebook’s one billion active users put the website’s population on par with some of the most populous nations in the world. Facebook’s growth as a web-based company has made it one of the three benchmark “digital era” companies, letting it sit comfortably alongside its fellow behemoths Google and Amazon.
More notable than its colossal size is its unprecedented nature; Facebook’s usage and adoption has caused innumerable social norms to shatter. Questions like “how connected is ‘too connected’?” and “is it okay for me to friend my teacher?” are questions that, a decade ago, would simply never have been asked. As the site continues to expand exponentially, Facebook’s numerous users, including high schoolers, have scrambled to determine when and to what extent Facebook is appropriate.
There are certainly benefits that exist with having an interconnected Facebook network. For one, on a purely theoretical level, Facebook could exist as a great alternative for students and teachers to interact. Many proponents for teacher-student “friendships” on Facebook argue that using Facebook to communicate is faster and less stressful than emailing teachers’ school emails, which many teachers often forget to check.
“It would be so much more convenient using Facebook to communicate with teachers,” freshman William Jow said. “It would be more efficient and effective, since it even tracks when a person checks their messages.”
Facebook could serve as an environment similar to personal interactions outside of the classroom. Coupled with Facebook’s innate “sharing” capacities, an interlinked teacher-student network could create a more personal teaching experience. As teachers and students rarely have an opportunity to discuss their private lives, being connected on Facebook lets these groups get a glimpse of each others’ lives. Teachers and students could definitely learn more and benefit from being connected online.
Of course, one of the main arguments against these proposed teacher-student relationships is the notion that “friendship” on Facebook might completely alter teacher-student relations. With the degree of anonymity granted by the mask of an online profile, many individuals are more prone to say things they would never say in an email or in real life.
“It’s a new responsibility, being friends with people like my teachers and even the superintendent Dr. Barry Groves,” junior Alina Chen said. “It makes me think twice about what I say and what I post.”
In short, teens might take “friendship” on Facebook the wrong way and decide to chat their teachers to ask for homework. A world where teens could just click to send their teachers links of cat pictures and click to poke their teachers would change the dynamic forever. In such a world, the professional “scholarly” relationship between staff members and students would be forever ruined, and the authority of teachers would have decreased severely.
Facebook is so widespread that anyone and everyone is connected. There’s nothing wrong with friending teachers, but students need to be careful and draw the line in their lives. As Facebook continues to grow, it is extremely important that students balance the positive powers of Facebook with the negative aspects of the social media site.