Academics and Social Media

I have received criticism from an academic at another university because I admitted to rejecting friend requests from students and colleagues on Facebook.

Yes, I am on Facebook. I am also on Twitter. And Tumblr. And Instagram. And LinkedIn.

It is not any fear of social media that causes me to reject the requests. It all boils down to one thing: I am entitled to a private personal life.

If students or colleagues want to connect with me on social media, I have a LinkedIn account. I have that account for the sole purpose of professional networking.

However, my Facebook account? That is for friends and family only. It has always been that way. There’s nothing especially scandalous on there, although there may be a few embarrassing videos and photos that the whole world doesn’t need to see. Regardless, I am entitled to have a personal life that is separate from my life as an academic. What I do on the weekend is nobody’s business.

My Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram accounts? Totally anonymous. They’re related to recreational hobbies that I have. You would never know I am the account owner unless I told you.

I think academics connecting with each other and their students is critical. We need to keep up with the times and find ways to make it easier to keep in contact with each other when we inevitably change jobs (and email addresses), or to keep in contact with students when they graduate. For me, LinkedIn is the perfect mechanism for this. Facebook is not.

So while this other academic thinks I am being rude and unprofessional by rejecting requests from students and colleagues on Facebook, I beg to differ. I am available to people in a professional capacity on social media – via LinkedIn. But I maintain my position regarding the right to have a private life through other social media outlets.

What are your thoughts on the matter? Let me know in the comments below!

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