Facebook as Workbook.

I have fond memories of Facebook in 2004, when I first joined the service. My undergraduate university was in the first or second wave of non-Ivy League colleges and universities, and I was the 100th person at Purdue to create a Facebook profile, a fact memorialized in my Facebook userid number.

Facebook was crucial for helping me connect with students in my classes, especially my large lecture classes. Facebook had a Courses functionality built into the service; students would list their course names and numbers, which would be turned into clickable links by Facebook so other users could click through and see everyone enrolled in a specific course who had chosen to make this information publicly available on their profile. When I needed notes for a class or had a question about something that had happened during a missed lecture, Courses was there for me.

Back then, Facebook membership was restricted to users with verifiable .edu addresses. It took at least two years before my colleagues at the campus-wide IT group started joining Facebook in force. That was the first time I had to sanitize my Facebook profile. It happened again after I graduated from Purdue and came to Virginia Tech for graduate school. Again when people from my graduate program started to friend me on Facebook; again when I finished my MFA and went on the job market locally. And most recently, when I felt certain negative-impacting work-related situations were being fueled by information gleaned from, or even the existence of, my Facebook profile.

I even deactivated my Facebook profile for a course I took last semester; what was originally a two-week deactivation turned into several months. Other than Facebook Messenger and Events, I found I didn’t really miss Facebook after all. But eventually I caved, and I’ve been back on Facebook for almost a year now.

I find Facebook isn’t really fun anymore; sometimes it qualifies as “work” when professional colleagues contact me on the service with professional queries. I wish I could shut it off completely, but I am too addicted to the information flow that Facebook provides. Couple that with a Facebook page I help to maintain for one of my jobs, and I can’t walk away from Facebook, even if it occasionally hurts me by telling me I’ve missed a really cool party or that my ex got married (note: this really happened).

This is why I hide on Twitter. Somehow I think that’s safer than Facebook, even though I am more honest/transparent/edgy on Twitter than may be prudent.

Also: my dad is not on Twitter. Yet.