As I have mentioned previously, I am using Facebook as a melting pot. A place with no boundaries. My list of friends includes:
- Family members: my husband and two sons; my sister and a cousin
- Old school friends
- Friends of my sons
- Members of my current and past churches
- As many people from my aggregator list as I have been able to track down
- Ditto the people I follow on Twitter
- A growing number of people encountered through Facebook SIGs
Professional persona v private persona
Of course, the nature of my interactions with these people differs from group to group. But the very fact of their exposure to one another generates some interesting situations. For example, I have a pretty relaxed relationship with my sons’ friends. One of them once sent me a friendship request, recording in the “how do you know Karyn” dialog box that we used to date, that we had broken up, but that we still got along really well and it was all a bit complicated. This is common practice among teens. As part of the method by which they protect their anonymity, they have a habit of fudging personal information of this sort – often at our suggestion, I might add. According to my younger son’s friendship list, it seems I have acquired several grandchildren. As far as they’re concerned, the people who know them personally know what the real deal is and the nature of their relationships with one another is no-one else’s business. If I had restricted my list of friends to people with whom I have personal relationships, perhaps it might not have been an issue. But when Toby’s friend request came through, my first thought was how it would look to my professional contacts – particularly since Toby’s profile picture (like my son’s I regret to confess) is a self-portrait taken in the mirror, with just a towel around his waist in order to show off to best effect what he delights to call his six-pack. Aw, bless!
Somehow this was different from allowing my younger son to infect me with vampireness or ninjaness or something along those lines. I was torn. I didn’t want to come over all heavy and make Toby feel awkward, but I also didn’t want to display inaccurate - and potentially damaging - information where others might stumble across it. So I welched and got my son to phone him and explain the situation.
Could I have handled this better?