Tuesday, 20 July 2010


Facebook has become such a part of our culture that it is now used as a verb: 'I'll Facebook you about it', a friend recently said to me when organising a barbeque. 'Are you on Facebook?' is one of the first questions I am asked when meeting friends of friends. Facebook has even been shortened to make it quicker to say and more embedded in our culture - 'I'll FB you' is a standard short hand way of saying 'I will contact you about this.'

Of course, we all know people who have completely turned away from the monster social networking site in distain and disgust. And whilst we acknowledge this as a good thing amongst our peers, secretly this annoys us beyond belief. Why can't I see what [insert dissenter's name here]'s had for breakfast? Why can I never invite that person to events via FB? Why does s/he have to be so obstinate in refusing to move with the current of the vast majority of people? People have many reasons for not joining Facebook; indeed, I myself deactivated my account. I lasted a day. This need, this addiction, to know what our friends are doing and thinking in real time despite their geographical location, has made us into a people of intensity. We no longer give ourselves time to formulate communication. And there are the dangers, the horror stories: people made redundant, people divorcing their spouse. People forget that what they put online is at some level accessible by other people.

I am still not a big believer in the power of Facebook for libraries; Facebook is a social place of social interaction. I am wary of 'dad at the disco syndrome' where we try to impress the Youff with our Kool FB pages. I do however like the way that some libraries have a page and people can become a fan if they wish. I think Twitter is a better tool for communication with students, however, perhaps that is because I use Twitter for professional purposes and Facebook for social reasons. Am I bringing my own preconceptions to the virtual table? This is an interesting area to watch closely.


Girl in the Moon said...

I think there's a really fine line that organisations like Libraries have to tread when using Facebook between trying to be overly 'chummy' (not a very yoof word, but you probably catch my drift) on one hand, and being cold and unapproachable on the other. In either scenario, people are less likely to want to be seen to be associated with the Library. But libraries seem to be quite popular on there at the moment (see for example the I'll Bet I Can Find 1,000,000 People Who Think Libraries Are Important group, so maybe it's a good time to cash-in on that feeling and gather lots of fans for individual libraries?

LottieMSmith said...

Yes it is such a fine line. We need to be where our users are so they don't bypass us, but do they *really* want us to be in social networking platforms? Time will tell I think. If Twitter catches on with younger people, it might become a much more appropriate platform.