I admit it -- like most people, I have a Facebook page. And yeah, I'm an actual human on there. I'm only friends with people who are actual friends, never in a million years would think of accepting a friend request from a current or former student, so I curse (as I do in my office hours and walking to my car and in/between classes and in the grocery store and...) and make exceedingly general comments like "stupid students are annoying."
A few weeks ago, I had to add the school I teach at to my networks to add a group (best way to get information) for the academic fraternity I'm a part of. Unbeknownst to me, Facebook decided to take this opportunity to take my super crystal clear, couldn't be clearer, really, really fucking clear "friends only don't let anybody see anything ever" privacy setting and change it so that anyone in my school's network can see anything. Anything.
Now, first, it pisses me off that FB just decided to change my shit without telling me. But what's worse is how I found out about these changes. Y'see, my boss sent out a rather nice email stating that he'd had some issues with students bitching about FB and that we all needed to check to make sure of our privacy settings. I immediately looked and found the above changes as well as one of my students, one who isn't doing so well in the course and who has overall seemed pretty damn apathetic about doing anything, including coming to class, but she's never gotten anything less than an A in her entire life on a paper and here are her accomplishments and how could I ever give her a D.
My assumption that I was one of the people being bitched about was correct, of course. It was probably this girl who bitched to him in the first place. There was nothing in any way specific on there, a few "fuck" or "fucking"s, some "grr stupid students" and "damn these papers aren't getting any easier to grade"s, but mostly my status updates are things like "damn I'm up way too early" or, more and more, "need to finish this paper...." The one thing my boss specified? A general feeling of "not acting in a professorial manner."
I have never, ever even stated that I had a FB, much less made it accessible to students. As my boss said, it might be simpler to just close my FB down so it's never a problem again. Here's why I'm not doing that, though.
The page is mine. It's my personal space, used only in my personal time. I don't even check it during office hours, dammit! I am a human and as such I deserve some time, some space in order not to be simply "Ms. May." If a student sees me pushing a cart in the grocery store, that is NOT the place to ask me about their homework. It never will be. If they see me buying alcohol at the liquor store that's none of their fucking business either. And no matter how I act outside of class and office hours, that's none of their business because hey, at that point I'm off the damn clock which means I'm no longer theirs.
What I really want to do is use this girl's FB against her as she obviously did against me. Fair game and all, right? So she should be totally fine with me questioning how she, as a person not able to legally imbibe alcohol, can "like" beer pong, or why her status updates for the past week totally don't match her "I didn't turn in my paper because I was sick and then I hurt my ankle" excuse(s). I bet she wouldn't be too happy with that turnabout, now would she?
So, I ask you, is it our obligation to always act in a way that students would approve of or are we deserving of being actual people with outside lives just as they do? Am I in the wrong here or should my FB be off limits, regardless of what my privacy settings are (and honestly, who the fuck goes out and looks up their professors on FB anyway)?