I'm getting old. More and more often I find myself longing for some lost thing - a television show, a courtesy that no longer lives, a service no longer rendered.
We've gained so many positive things, that's true. Efficiencies have been made, communications have speeded up. The world has become a smaller place.
It's nice to be able to jot a quick note to my mom, 120 miles away, and get a response in a few seconds. I like asking a far-flung business associate a question and getting an answer and attached technical worksheet in a few minutes. I love seeing pictures of my nieces' travel on Facebook.
But, I realized I have no long term record of these online conversions with my mom, no prints of those pictures I admired online. The communication, while speedy, is transient, impermanent.
This immediate communication also has some inherent dangers. A recent 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll asked folks if they felt it was appropriate for teachers to use social networking such as Facebook or Twitter to interact with their students. Forty-five percent said "No, teachers shouldn't do it." Another 27 percent said it was OK if used for academics only, while 24 percent said it was fine if behavior was appropriate. That number jumped to 44 percent among those 18 to 29. It fell to 13 percent for those in my age bracket, 45 to 64.
That makes sense, as the younger generation is so comfortable with this new world of communication. However, for me it just seems wrong. As a child, I don't recall even realizing my teachers had a life outside the classroom. The idea of "friending" one is just something I could never imagine wanting to do.
More and more school districts are falling into the "don't" category, with school boards setting a "No Facebook or Twitter" friending policy for its teachers and administrators.
I think it's a good idea. We've seen too many instances of students and teachers getting a little too close, with new media being the conduit of much of that communication.
I've got my own, non-official Facebook policy. I don't Facebook friend folks from work. My Facebook account is personal, I reason. It's a way of keeping in touch with the younger branches of my family tree. I tell my staff over and over that I want them to be truly "away" from work when they are away from work. It follows, then, that my leisure time Facebook is not intended for work colleagues. The people who work with me are adults, so this mandate is more about separation between work and home than it is about safety, but I do believe a bit of distance isn't a bad thing.
Like those teachers of mine all those years ago, I don't really mind if my staff thinks I live at the office.