Why I didn’t quit Facebook …but could still be a dummy


I didn’t quit Facebook on Quit Facebook Day last week…. or Plurk, or Vimeo, or Second Life, or Odeo, or Squidoo, or Plaxo or …. you get the idea. If I go and check at namechk.com I can quickly see how many services I registered for, but do not use.

I don’t use Facebook any more. I kept my account way after I found it vaguely useful because I was working in a job where I had to know how students were using it. I learned how to set up a page and create a Facebook ap. Now that I no longer need such an intimate idea of how students communicate, if I (or the library users) thought it was useful, I could set up a library presence in Facebook and communicate with users. This is probably not likely soon.

I use Facebook differently from how my neighbour, kids’ friends or other librarians might do. Understanding that there are many ways that tools are used, how these tools work generally and having enough tech skill to master them in half an hour of playing about are essential skills for librarians, especially something so widely used as Facebook. This does not mean that I have to keep an account on a service that I no longer find useful.  I was rather pissed off when Stephen Abram wondered on his blog:

… how many info pros will announce to the world they don’t have the information skills to manage privacy by leaving Facebook today. If they do have the skills they won’t for long as outsiders. It seems to me that it should be a reasonable user expectation of librarians and information professionals that they should be able to manage privacy settings and use the full range of web tools. I also would expect to be able to receive informed, current and excellent advice and training on how to deal with the emerging social tools from my professionals in the social institutions I frequent (public libraries, schools, univerisities, colleges, etc.). (Today is Quit Facebook day for Dummies )

There are many valid reasons why other librarians made the personal choice to quit Facebook – the way it keeps changing the privacy goalposts, the walled garden aspect, the dependency on one platform, the social awkwardness of refusing a “friend” request… Just like it’s valid for me to have kept my profile, but not use it – although I may be the dummy for uncritically keeping my profile on a service that I no longer find useful.

Understanding this fluidity of use, different personal approaches to information and online tools and that there are no “one size fits all” tools for everyone are essential skills for librarians.

If you want to see one way the conversation about Facebook, quitting and librarians played out, check out the comments on Stephen’s post, Walt Crawford’s post in response  ( Does every librarian need to be an involved expert on everything?) and the 55 comment long thread on Friend Feed . Many valid and varied points are made.

Post 5 of the 30 posts in 30 days challenge.

One thought on “Why I didn’t quit Facebook …but could still be a dummy

  1. I agree with you about facebook – it was a useful tool when I signed-up and used it as a librarian:- to gain the skills to enable me to assist in offering computer literacy to library customers.
    I quit over 12 months ago as I just wasn’t using it anymore. At NLS08 I heard about twitter with which I have a private profile that makes me feel safe, so fb went.

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