Face On or Face Off

Facebook =

a) close friends
b) family and family of family
c) teachers I know
d) teachers I don't know
e) people I went to school with
f) people I've met along my travels
g) students
h) people who began as tweeters but are now my friends

See a pattern?

My inner circle.

People I respect.

Seriously, so here it is. My Saturday Rant.

"Bob," "Angie" and "John" want to connect with me on Facebook using images they downloaded from Microsoft ClipArt. They look like:
  • jungle animals
  • inanimate objects
  • sunset landscapes
Or, scandal of scandal, they came online as their

(don't gasp out loud if you're in a public place):
  • their company logo

LinkedIn is like a CV on the internet, it contains the details of one's professional life.

Twitter is where one's PPLN resides: the personal and professional converge creating an awesome learning network.

Ning is the deepener of all those experiences.

But Facebook?

Facebook is where you are you.

And, for the most part, everyone in this new country understands this... the people I'm connected with there, are themselves. Their picture is of them, circa today, smiling or frowning or laughing.

Yes... there are a few exceptions: one of the teachers who used to work for me has a picture of her toes. One friend is currently sporting her newly born child (why do mothers do this?), another has up her wedding picture and she does look awfully pretty in it.

The ex-husband? He is dark-shaded, looking like he's Ecuador's answer to Al Pacino.

Recently an older family member got cold feet and took down all of her pictures returning to the Facebook silhouette. My sister's the surf she was riding last summer and a favorite professional colleague is a tea pot...

Yes, a tea pot.

My inner circle can wear and do whatever they like.

In the teaching field, one of my 'connections' is a logo on Twitter, however, knowing how I feel about logos in general decided to reach out and invite me into her life on FB.

When I got the invite, I didn't jet off to go check out all her photos (I tend not to when you're not someone I "know") however novelty did make me go take a look at her main wall. There I found the pic of her and her husband: you know what, they look like really "good folk" - it was nice to have the connect so now I have warm and fuzzy feelings about her, whether or not her bosses want her to be on Twitter in drag.

In fact, I have really warm feelings about her company simply because she's employed there.

A handful of lovely teachers and other edu-bloggers have also chosen to let me in and I've let them into mine.

It's nice knowing there are others just like me out there, interested in the same stuff, challenged by the same stuff... so if opening my world means they see my "private" sphere I don't mind: we come together as equals, from around the globe, are subject to the same revelations, frustrations, thoughts and status updates - our private and public lives meshed.

  • How do you feel about the anonymous in web 2.0?
  • Do you worry about your privacy?
  • What sort of preventive measures do you use?
  • Do you keep certain sites/profiles just for certain people?

But back to Bob, Angie, John and random Joe who all think it's cool to click on that "add as a friend" button while sporting some miscellaneous avatar (so they can keep, well, er, like you know their life private while they troll around)...

I've got just one thing to say:

Face on


Face off.


12 Responses to “Face On or Face Off”

  • Nicky says:
    January 16, 2010

    Hi there, haven't commented in a while!

    Your question is an interesting one. I can't make up my mind on this one. I don't have a set, premeditated policy on it, which actually is probably the worst possible position to take, but hey.

    I tend to have different profiles for different groups of people and it works out for me I guess.

    The anonymity that worked so well in the era of forums and chatrooms and people with screen-names like "cooldude69" or whatever doesn't translate very well to the web 2.0 world but that hasn't stopped people from trying.

    Maybe I should at the very least stick a photo somewhere on the old $4MT "about" page...

    January 16, 2010

    Nicky :-) I haven't seen you in ages and have been horrid about not visiting in a while (you'd gone silent for a bit) though I remember hearing from Anne Hodgson that you were back in the bloggin' business.

    Yes, put a photo up on your blog and also, we'd love you to join us on BELTfree!

    The thing is the different sites do have different cultures - on Twitter people can sort of get away without their faces (or blurred images if they wish or whatever) it's not great but if they want to be private, who cares, not so in-yer-face... but if someone wants to connect with me in my "living room" they well, better be real or that "block" button gets pressed.

    See you soon,

  • Seth Dickens says:
    January 16, 2010


  • Jason Renshaw says:
    January 17, 2010

    Cool post, Karenne, found a lot that I can relate to in terms of your angle on Facebook. With the overlap of so many different forms of social media these days, I quite like your take on the different emphases each might have and how they can work together across different layers of personal/private, casual/professional.

    Thanks for keeping us thinking in this somewhat unmapped terrain!

  • Unknown says:
    January 17, 2010

    Before Facebook was blocked in Vietnam I used to use it as a social and educational tool...I connected ex-students from Greece with ex-students from Korea and Vietnam etc. I wasn't precious about it at all. If people wanted to send me private messages then that's nice too. I miss it though. It was a one stop shop for friends, family, colleagues etc. Twitter is different. No friends or family there thanks. It's a working, learning tool where I happen to come across really cool like-minded folk.
    The up-side of Facebook being blocked here is that I don't get collared by the admin staff to coo at their endless baby photos all day!! :-)

    January 17, 2010

    Hi Laura,
    Thanks for comment - I guess it really boils down to how people initially begin using a platform.

    Facebook was way before I even had a blog and 80% of my family are on it, so for me it's the place I go to whinge or chat or flirt or be myself really... I suppose that's why I tend to be a little 'precious' about it in ways I'm not about twitter...

    Yes, Jason - I do tend to see boundaries in the different platforms' function:

    LinkedIn is my office so they'd be no nonsense there, Twitter is a party and a ginormous staff room...and bring on the champagne and the edu-brawling... but Facebook's home, my Mom gets to see what's written there.

    :-) Funny!

    Maybe I'm just being a bit silly... and it is all a giant unmapped universe.

  • Anonymous says:
    January 18, 2010

    I don't see why everyone should show their own photograph. Twitter is not like an identity card or a "staffroom" or even less "living room" !! if I want to *see* someone I don't go on the internet. I like that you can look like a squirrel or a bird on the internet: that's a possiblility which does not exist in unplugged life (I prefer to say unplugged than "real"life, because to me life online is very real). So why try and reproduce the same ID stuff we all have to show in unplugged life? isn't it more fun to get to know people*without* their pics? doesn't a squirrel say more about a person than just his/her face he did not choose?
    Looks are ever so important in our society : have you noticed how people who show their pics are all young healthy and good looking? Well I don't cross people off just because they don't show me their face. The world is large and varied and beautiful, and beauty lies in differences, IMHO.

    ALiCe__M, no photo included!

    PS: I know a guy who says he is very ugly (never saw his pic of course)and I'm glad I met him online.

  • Unknown says:
    January 19, 2010

    I'm finding that I use Facebook less and less these days. With my own blogs, my occasional tweeting and following and commenting on other blogs something web 2.0 had to break - for me it is Facebook.
    For awhile I thought it would be my professional and personal channel, but I think in the end it's more of a personal one.
    Anyway, for a "Saturday rant" post Karenne I thought this was restrained, well sort of anyway!

  • Natasa says:
    January 20, 2010

    My Facebook 'living room' is full of my relatives, my friends (from different stages of my life), my colleagues from work, my students, my ex-students... and the people from my online PLN. How can I be anything but myself there? I mostly chat about private stuff on Facebook, which is why I have disabled automatic updates from Twitter (used to really confuse my relatives by those).
    I like your post, I agree with most of the things you have said.

  • Anne Hodgson says:
    January 22, 2010

    I think we agree, except perhaps re Twitter. For me Twitter is a functional information network, only. I've tried socializing, but the interaction stayed strangely two-dimensional. Conversations like those with you, Alice, have been the exception. I like a recognizeable picture for orientation, but it could be an abstract graphic.

    Blogs are shared reflection. I wouldn't need a face, just lucid thoughts, comments and insight. If I know the blogger, the thoughts are enough to connect.

    Facebook is for personal connections, so I want a photo there, too. I'm unsure whether it was a good idea to feed in blogs. The personal and professional overlap gets a little weird sometimes.

  • RC says:
    January 24, 2010

    This post and its comments exemplify the problem we're all faced with in this online world: really we all have different interpretations and different expectations from each of these interfaces (Facebook, Twitter, etc). For one it's professional, one it's personal, one it's a chance to live out their alter ego - and we don't know which one is which for the person we're talking to. We can't forget this in our "plugged" activities. Just as in our "unplugged" communication, we can't assume that our counterpart has the same attitude we have.
    Sorry, Karenne, this topic always draws out my skepticism.
    But I love to talk about it!

    January 24, 2010

    Anne, yes -the professional and personal are overlapping in very strange ways, am not sure how I feel about networked blogs but it works, so I do it...

    Probably should get my fingers slapped!!!

    Me too, Claire - it's a funny subject (and an interestingly passionate one) - honestly, I get super cross and insulted when people try to "friend me" without a photo on Facebook but just kinda expect newbies to do this when they first arrive on Twitter... especially because it's so unclear what to do there.

    And on LinkedIn, I think they're simply weird if they do that.


    Changing the subject ever so slightly ... I guess one of the reasons I'm drawn to this theme is because in life I've seen people enter other people's real life cultures with zero regard for what the pre-existing norms and cultural rules are - I talked about this a bit on Gavin's post of the same theme, mentioning cultural superiority and colonialism and then on Jason's post was derided for doing so.

    But I do especially dislike when people new to blogging, who never even read blogs before starting one (because you know, it's the cool thing to do these days: see Gavin Dudeney's On Audiences post) start talking about what a "new world" it is and how the norms aren't defined ...like they really should just go read some blogs before talking culture.

    But na ja, people can do with whatever web 2.0 site what they will and live in it the way they want to.

    The main thing to be careful of, I think is probably the "I can do whatever I like" attitude (because I'm British or French or American or whatever) rather than the "when in Rome" stance.

    And I say this from DIRECT EXPERIENCE - and have lived all over this world and seen a lot of this crap going on...

    I'll give some concrete examples:

    Thailand. Every single guidebook advises tourists to cover their heads, remove shoes and not show too much skin when entering temples.

    YET, when I was there (5 times) the thing that bugged beyond belief was the absolute disregard of this 'cultural norm' by Westerners.

    AS far as they were concerned they were on holiday and could do whatever they felt like, the natives being silly if they were offended. After all they're there spending money.

    Like WHAT?????

    Antigua and Grenada.

    Now, we just don't go about the beaches naked.

    And we do not go into town to do our shopping and banking in bikinis.

    YET, how many tourists think this is okay practice?????

    Uncountable the amount of people who have said, "well, I'm hot so I can do whatever I like" - is un-freaking-believable and a blatant disrespect of our Caribbean culture. Recently our government has taken to fining tourists who simply can't figure out how to behave in public.

    Another horrible example:

    A few years back a tourist was raped on a relatively lonely beach - her defense:

    I wanted a full-allover-body suntan.

    His defense: she took her clothes (including swimsuit), she was hungry for a man, I was giving her what she wanted.

    Now - this is seriously going to put the cat amongst the pigeons - because culturally, from the position in which I was raised, even though I understand "intellectually" that what the man did was the wrong thing,

    "emotionally" I connect with and feel sorry for him, BECAUSE in my culture no woman who was not a prostitute would remove all her clothes in public where men could see her.

    It just would never happen.

    And funny enough I reckon no self-respecting German woman would take off all her clothes in the local High Street or Park and then lie down and not expect something terrible to happen...

    But hmmm... I got distracted, this was supposed to be about Facebook.

    Claire, yes

    "Just as in our "unplugged" communication, we can't assume that our counterpart has the same attitude we have.

    :-) Karenne


Visitors and Regular Readers


FEEDJIT Live Traffic Feed

Communities of Practice

Blog Archive

Directories, catalogs and Back Links

Adult Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory Add to Technorati Favorites

The EFL ESL Blog List TotalESL.com - ESL/EFL/TEFL Teaching Jobs and Teacher Resumes

International Blogging Directory

Recent Posts

Simply Conversations

Pedagogically sound materials designed to get your students actively talking:

Free Samples
Conversation Control

General English
Business English

Learn more on why these work