Tag Archives: social media

Don’t Judge a (Face)book By Its Cover

Welcome to the first of the Myths of Residence Life Series! This post was actually written BEFORE the idea for the series came about…but I realized it fit so well! Incoming students have the ability to see YEARS of their future classmates’ lives on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and whatever else social media platform that’s out there.

So I might be dating myself here, but I was in college when Facebook became open to everybody. I didn’t think too much of it. The only change for me was now I could be Facebook friends with my friends that were still in high school (I mean, I wasn’t that old).

And then housing assignments were released…I was working at my good ol’ Undergrad U student employment job. I was told that typically we get slightly more phone calls after assignments go out. People are unhappy with what building they are in or what floor they are on. Somebody’s precious darling has allergies and needs air conditioning. Typical calls. The calls started coming that very day and did not stop until the school year started. My supervisor said that she had NEVER heard the phones ring that much.

Why the incredible increase in calls? Students could now look up their roommates on Facebook. That was something I honestly never thought of. Yes, Facebook existed before I left for college, but my roommate didn’t (and still doesn’t) have Facebook. For the friends I did make on Facebook, all of our profiles were NEW. While this was only the first year, that’s still a whole year’s worth of photos. We’re currently several years past this point so now my incoming students are seeing photos of their future roommate’s high school career. Ugh…I couldn’t imagine having those awkward years documented on the internet.

The point is, so many students were making assumptions about their future roommates based on what they saw on Facebook. People use their Facebooks (and before that MySpaces) to display who they want the world to view them as. Back when all these phone calls were flooding in, people didn’t think about privacy settings on their pictures or censor themselves just in case a future employer might stumble across their profiles one day. Some students were calling to complain that they didn’t want to live with their future roommates because all they saw on Facebook were party pics or offensive jokes. Others were calling because their roommate seemed “lame” or “different”. It is impossible to describe what a person is like based off of what you see on Facebook.

While my roommate and I didn’t have the anxiety-laden opportunity of stalking each other on Facebook prior to moving in together, I wonder what a stranger would think of me based off of my Facebook profile. I have my profile set to super secret, so the stranger would have to request me first but that’s beside the point.

First off, we have my cover photo and profile picture. These tend to be absolutely ridiculous. In fact, when I first arrived at college, my Facebook picture was one of my comics. Oops. Right now my current cover photo is a close up of my favorite food and my profile picture is actually a poorly photoshopped photo of one of my friends. So at the moment random stranger would probably think I’m a fat man (not that my friend is fat…just the food and all).

Next, my “about” info. My main network is Hogwarts and my relationship status lists me as being in a relationship with one of my lady friends. My quotes and “info paragraph” haven’t been changed since 2008 and are just a listing of inside jokes. The only musicians I like are my friends bands or singing groups. I don’t have any books, movies, or TV shows listed, but at the moment Facebook is recommending kids books and movies…

And last but not least, photos of me. Since that’s where 99% of my students complaints come from. There are a LOT of pictures of me with my friends’ pets. Not too many party pics…but several photo bomb pictures. And lots of sorority pictures. Of course. Sorority squat!

I don’t think any of that accurately describes me. I don’t use Facebook to list every like and dislike and chronicle every moment of my day. Sorority pictures are in there a lot because those are a lot of the big events I go to…and that’s where the cameras are. At the same time, when I think about students “cleaning up” their Facebooks before they begin their job searches (or before applying for college housing), I don’t think the “after” version of their profiles represent them either.

It’s been a few years since I heard from those angry parents at Undergrad U. I’m still hearing from angry parents. They’re checking out their kid’s roommate’s Facebook and Instagram and Twitter. “He tweeted rap lyrics, my son doesn’t like rap, MY SON CAN’T LIVE WITH HIM!” I wish I was making this up. Now that I’m no longer a student, I’ve started telling parents that we will not change a room assignment just based on something they saw on Facebook. The whole idea of college is to figure out how to live on your own. If there are major issues or lifestyle differences that cannot be worked out once the students have arrived at school and given it the ol’ college try (pun intended), then we will look into finding your precious anti-rap darling a new place to live.

Student affairs professionals of the world…what are some of your most bizarre “well I saw it on the internet” moments you’ve experienced?

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

You Are The Weakest Link. Goodbye.

Alright kids, gather round. Today we’re going to talk about the ultimate burn in this day and age: being de-friended on some sort of social media. I originally wrote this back in 2009 when I swear I was the only person in my friend group with Twitter and things like Instagram didn’t exist yet. So let’s focus on Facebook because being de-friended on Facebook sucks every bit as much today as it did in 2009. I’m not really sure what the pre-Facebook equivalent would be. Being picked last for the kickball team? Someone not returning your calls? Being completely ignored, kind of like the episode of South Park where Cartman thought he was dead? Anywho. Let’s get on with this.

To de-friend someone on Facebook is basically saying “I never want to see you again. I want nothing to do with you. You are dead to me. I am cutting you out of my life completely.” Once your former lover/roommate/best friend de-friends you, your updates will no longer show up in their news feed. They won’t be forced to endure status updates, pictures posted, or Farmville notifications. But Author, what if somebody is just cleaning out their list or really doesn’t give a crap about your engagement photo shoot? Nowadays, there are ways to hide that stuff! I have plenty of people on my Facebook that post a little too frequently about their kids’ potty training that I selected to hide their updates. Also, you can hide updates from games and other things. The best part is that the other person doesn’t know you selected to hide their updates whereas if you de-friend someone and then they go to look you up for some reason, they are suddenly VERY aware of this de-friending.

Personally, I have only felt compelled to de-friend people on two occasions in my life. The first was a completely normal occurrence. Remember when Facebook was for college kids only? (Man, I’m really dating myself here.) And the best moment of your summer before freshman year was getting your college email address so you could get Facebook (or as it was known back in the day THE Facebook)? And how many random people you friended that were members of “FALL INCOMING CLASS 200X WOOOO!!” Yeah…well…after I finally arrived on campus and realized that I wasn’t actually going to be friends with all these people who I had told about my down alternative comforter and flamingo string lights, I did a little cleaning. Understandable? Yes. If you don’t know the person in real life, you can delete them. During Spring Semester, I became friends with a kid that was in one of my new classes and he actually CALLED ME OUT ON IT. He was like “Well we were Facebook friends and then you de-friended me.” Ummm…today is the first day I met you?!? But sure enough, when I checked my OLD messages, I had found out that months and months before this, we had gone back and forth about how his building was closer to the dining hall than mine. Real friendship right there. Sigh.

The other time I de-friended someone was later in my college career. I was having a bit of a stalker issue and it got to the point where I didn’t want him in my life anymore. I was doing a great job at avoiding him in person, but he would always make snarky remarks via Facebook AND he had started friending my friends to talk to them about me. I was young and at the time didn’t realize how serious the whole situation was so I simply de-friended him, thinking that MAYBE he’d take the hint. He didn’t. Instead, he re-friended me and included a little message. I don’t remember it word-for-word anymore but I’m pretty sure thought it was awfully rude of me to remove him from my friends list. I’m sorry. I didn’t like when you Facebook messaged me twenty times in one day. At this point, I had to take it one step further and block him. I had never blocked anybody on Facebook. At this point in time, my blocking knowledge was limited to AIM. I’m assuming it worked because I never heard from him (at least on Facebook) again. Also, I can’t search for him. So it does go both ways. That’s alright. I can live without his creepy/emo status updates.

So readers, what brings you to the point of having to de-friend a person? Did your break up leave you in your pajamas for a week with only your good friends Ben and Jerry for company? Did your best friend steal “yo man”? Sick of looking at somebody’s ugly mug? Or…more grown up problems…are you sick of hearing about somebody’s upcoming wedding EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.? These ridiculous situations always make for great stories, so put yours in the comments and get ready for tomorrow’s post!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Social Media Concerns

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have my job before the days of social media. While I enjoy it for personal use, it honestly can make some days turn into a major headache once I get complaints of students using Facebook or Twitter to bully one another or to post pictures of things that they shouldn’t have in their rooms or apartments (yes, we do see your party pictures). I imagine that before Facebook, students shared pictures the same way they shared them when I was in middle school – getting them developed and passing the envelope around. Also, I know that before I had a digital camera, I took WAYYYY less pictures because it was so expensive!

I already mentioned that students posting pictures of inappropriate activities can get them in trouble. I had friends get in trouble for this my first year at Undergrad U. They had been drinking one night in their room with a few friends and took some pictures and of course posted them on Facebook and I believe somebody reported them to a Residence Life Professional so then of course they got in trouble. I’ve had other instances of students or friends posting about things in their room (street signs, pets) and get in trouble for that as well.

A more recent phenomenon has been these “Confessions” pages. Undergrad U has had a pretty active page for a month or two now, usually filled with things like “I think my RA is hot” or “I had sex in the library/locker room/bathroom/etc”. Most of the time these are harmless, but other times students talk about hurting themselves or others and we have no way to find out who posted it.

Students definitely don’t understand the consequences of posting certain things online. With Facebook, the things you posted are most certainly linked with your real name. Trust me, it’s not fun to have to go through years of pictures and un-tag or delete inappropriate photos. It’s even worse when you have message people you haven’t talked to in ages asking them to take down their photos they may have posted of you. I didn’t have a Facebook until I was in college, but some of these students have had Facebook since they were thirteen…that’s going to be a LOT of Facebook digging their senior year!

Now, it’s not like I go creeping on the internet looking for my students’ Facebook and Twitter accounts trying to get them in trouble. Trust me, I don’t want to see this stuff. The less I know, the better! But if we are made aware of something, we have to chat with the student about it. I usually hear a lot of, “I had no idea you could see that!”

Another issue that has been happening with Residence Life (and it’s something that started happening while I was still a student) is that after receiving their roommate assignment, a student will go look up his or her new roomie on Facebook. Sometimes, the parent does this. And then all hell breaks loose. “My child cannot live with this heathen! They have PARTY pictures on Facebook!” While Facebook can be great for roommates and other incoming students to get to know each other, it becomes a problem when a student uses Facebook to “play up” one aspect of his or her life.

What are some issues that social media has created at your job? How do you work with students on addressing social media concerns?

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,