January 15, 2011 7:44 PM   Subscribe

How can I overcome my anxiety over Facebook and other highly interactive social media?

I have a Facebook page and a LinkedIn page; they are presently static. I have raised my privacy settings and I ignore friending requests. I was alarmed when I started receiving friend requests from people I didn't know; that was when I raised my privacy settings to the maximum.

I am made uneasy by the promiscuous way that information spreads on Facebook (to paraphrase Neal Stephenson on the Internet in his alternate world in Anathem).

I'm 40 years old, so this may be partly generational. I recently graduated from a master's in library science program that emphasized digital resources and new media, and most of the students, about a decade or more younger than myself, were Facebook addicts to an extent that I didn't care for. For example, some students were doing Facebook on laptops during classes.

I also work in a workplace that requires confidentiality; Facebook and other social media sites are blocked on the workplace computers, and we employees have had to sign agreements to not reveal any personal information about our workplace or our clients. In any case I want to focus on my job, as even if I was able to access Facebook at work, I would not be able to do my job if I had to look at Facebook every 15 minutes.

However, I am on the job market and I'm worried that I am missing out on connections. What can I do to overcome this anxiety and to control Facebook interactions, and also to keep Facebook use down to say 15-30 min. a day after work, as I do not have the time to be on it constantly?

As for LinkedIn, I am on the market for a library job where posting purely professional content (information about resources, committees, and initiatives) would probably be acceptable.

I'm aware that it's ironic to be posting this sort of question on AskMe and that I am not afraid of Metafilter despite the fact that I can't control what the commenters say. It's the anonymity. I'm aware that on Facebook, too, that genuine personality and contact may be an illusion, that many people "brand" themselves, but I'm not sure that I could keep that up aside from the purely professional librarian role.
posted by bad grammar to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I have a Facebook and a LinkedIn account.

I literally do nothing with either. I update profile information and that's it. I think I have made two Facebook posts in the last 3 years.

I check Facebook every week or so to see if there are any upcoming events my friends are planning, but that's it. I honestly have no idea what those people who spend all day on Facebook do. It seems very boring to me.
posted by sanka at 7:50 PM on January 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Why friend someone you don't know?

Nobody has to check facebook every 15 minutes, at work play or with their goofy smrt phones.

Relax and ignore, you will recognize those you know and filter those you don't.
posted by Max Power at 7:52 PM on January 15, 2011

You can adjust your FB settings to Friends, Friends of Friends, and so on. I accept friend requests from people who seem interesting (and I've been a paid blogger and am a freelancer, so I get requests from all sorts of people, including those who must have me confused with someone else.) MY FB account doesn't show up on a Google search under my real name. You can use a variation of your name on FB, too.

I almost never post anything personal, more like links to stuff I like or comments on issues of the day. Linked In is purely for work stuff, and I don't cross-reference FB. I post on FB maybe 1 or 2x day.

In general, I find both sites useful for different purposes, just like here. I can ask questions about stuff I'm looking for, or recommendations about people, places, things, and keep in touch with far-flung friends, relative and kids.

But I don't see any reason to be all freaked out about either site. You're in charge.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:58 PM on January 15, 2011

I check Facebook a few times a day, but interact pretty infrequently. I have never friended anyone I do not know, and the only pieces of information about me people who do not have me friended are my face and my name. As long as you stay vigilant delete anything particularly damning from your wall and -- I assume this is not going to be too big of a problem for a 40-year-old -- untag yourself in any photos of your doing anything particularly damning, you'll be fine.

I also have no idea what Facebook "addicts" do all day on Facebook. However, I tweet pretty frequently and AIM is always open, so maybe they're just doing all of their digital social interaction on a single site. I know plenty of people use it instead of email now, and it does have the capabilities to do what both AIM and Twitter do.

Unless you have a particular yen to constantly be in touch with people (or get addicted to one of the games) you probably won't end up a Facebook addict.
posted by griphus at 7:59 PM on January 15, 2011

I also have a Facebook and LinkedIn account. I friend only people I know. I occasionally post something interesting on Facebook, and I only post professional stuff on LinkedIn. Like you, I don't quite get social media, and I'm 41. But on the other hand, I've always been nonsocial, so I'm afraid I don't count as a data point, unless you consider yourself nonsocial, too. Do you prefer to email rather than talk on the phone? Then you're me!
posted by babbageboole at 8:05 PM on January 15, 2011

You can use Facebook however you want to use it. You are in control here. Obviously you know all about privacy settings, so great. I've heard other people explain their negative feelings about Facebook by saying it freaked them out that people they didn't know tried to friend them, but I don't get that - so what? You don't have to accept them. Hit ignore, and move on. Only be friends with people you know, make sure it is set up so that you get an email if someone posts on your wall, so you can quickly delete anything you don't like - or turn off the wall altogether. I don't really see Facebook being a big networking tool as far as searching for a job, but LinkedIn is, so use that for your job search, and Facebook to keep up with old friends. I am a little confused by your question, because you seem to know everything I've just said, but you are still anxious about it - why?
posted by coupdefoudre at 8:05 PM on January 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

Oh, and also my birthday on websites is always January 1. Why make it easier? Of course, I tend to get lots of birthday wishes on the new year...
posted by babbageboole at 8:06 PM on January 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm a library person and I use facebook, but I always see it like turning on the radio or something, getting some random information in a direction you're vaguely interested in. I teach a lot of librarians why they might want to use facebook [it's got an easy way to do events, it's got some decent RSS feeds, sharing photos is pretty simple] but at the end of the day if it's not solving a problem for you, do what you want with it. I think facebook becomes more of a problem when people who are a little uncertain or timid about it worry that they may be doing it wrong. The think I like about it is that everyone sort of does it their own way. I have a sister who is your age and she's not on facebook at all, she's still totally terrific, I just have to sometimes email her things she might otherwise miss. I friend almost everyone who asks if I can figure out how I know them [all librarians, all MeFites, all people from my high school, anyone I'm related to] and I block the few people in my life I don't want to have access to me or my things.

You can use lists to sort of manage levels of access too. Like have a family list and a friends list, put a few people on each and "tune in" to each list maybe once a day to see if it gives you any benefit at all. You may find that you flat our don't use it and don't care about it. I like it because it keeps me vaguely in the loop of what's happening in the neighborhood [a lot of my neighbors use it] and I like wasting time looking at pictures of people sometimes. It's possible that potential employers would check to see if you had a facebook page, but likely they're not looking for more than that. You may want to think about whether you have any actual antipathy towards it, in case you maybe needed to use it a little bit for work.

In short: however you want to interact with it is fine, don't let other people tell you different, not checking it during the day at work is only a thing if you have a significant other or bff who somehow thinks that you should be interacting with them in that way during that time, otherwise don't sweat it. Feel free to friend me if you want to practice friending/blocking/adding to a list, I won't take it personally.
posted by jessamyn at 8:10 PM on January 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

I am about your age and reluctantly started using FB a couple of years ago because I too wondered what I would have to say on it for hours each day like my neices and nephews do. I check FB a couple of times a day just to see what others (mostly family and close friends that I have "friended") are doing. I comment occassionally but it is always something positive (nice pictures, happy birthday, great job on your test) because I am pretty appalled when I see other people (most 20 somthing) complain incessantly about work, their boyfriend/girlfriends, talk about how drunk they got at last nights party, etc. I have another friend my ago who is literaly on FB for hours and hours doing FarmVille and posting her every single though and I often wonder what people think about that because when you are an adult I kind of think you should act/sound like one. So my FB comments are pretty boring but that's OK.
posted by MsKim at 10:26 PM on January 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have a Facebook account, and a LinkedIn account. I try to keep the two separate, Facebook is for personal life and friends (although I have many of my co-workers on there too), whereas LinkedIn is for my professional life and colleagues.

I'm not currently in the market for a new job, so honestly I rarely check LinkedIn, other than to add colleagues and ex-co-workers when they request to link to me. I do check Facebook many times a day, I love it. I'm close in age to you, so I'm not sure its generational, just where your interest lie, and how comfortable you are sharing with other people. Facebook's use as a job-seeking tool really depends who your friends are on there. Do you have Facebook friends who post job-listings? Well then, be sure to check it on a regular basis to see if there is anything around. You don't have Facebook friends who post job openings? Well then, don't sweat it. Maybe Facebook just isn't your style. You're not missing out on anything. I don't Twitter or blog, because I prefer Facebook. Does that mean I'm missing out on something great? No, because its not for me. Relax, and stick with what is interesting to you.

If you want to maximise your facebook time in order to see what everyone else is doing, then I suggest you try and optimise your news feed. If you haven't already, then block all the stupid app spam (farmville etc) or install one of the third-party blocking scripts like Facebook Purity or Better Facebook. This gets rid of all the useless clutter ("Jane Smith is now friends with Jessica Brown" and "Jane Smith needs someone to water her crops!"), and pares your news feed down to status updates, links and photos. That way you can just sit down and scroll through everything without having to manually filter all the app spam, or play whack a mole with new apps to block. If you've already used privacy settings, well done, you're ahead of a lot of people. Random strangers try to friend you? Doesn't mean anything, maybe they are searching for an old friend with the same name as you. As long as you don't accept, there's nothing to worry about.
posted by Joh at 11:55 PM on January 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm 44 and I'm on Facebook all of the time - sometimes for hours... Mostly because my friends and family are scattered to the winds and it is by far the best way I've found to keep in touch with all of them. I don't use my real name online anywhere, even on Facebook. Those who know me, know how to find me, those who don't, well I just don't add them as friends.

But as other have said -- it's up to you how much information you share or how much time you spend on Facebook. I mean, if you're not playing the games or on the instant messenger, there isn't a whole lot to keep you on Facebook. Um, unless you have a ton of quick-fingered friends and family as I do who comment on every little thing you post almost as soon as you post it -- then you might have a problem.
posted by patheral at 12:28 AM on January 16, 2011

It's entirely up to you how much time you dedicate to FB. I like to check once a day, see what people have been up to and perhaps update some of my far flung friends/family about what I've been up to, 5-10 mins tops, bit like checking your phone messages or scanning the local news. In fact it's more interesting than the local news because I only friend people I know so...so adjust your privacy settings to whatever you're comfortable with and accept/ignore friend requests as required and engage as much or as little as you want....it is unlikely that you would ever spend as much time on there as you have seen your fellow students do because you have a job and a life and it is probably firmly grounded in the real world so you haven't got the time to spend or the inclination to do so.

Think about it, the adults who have hours to dedicate to this have a very flexible schedule and, if they do work outside the home, have the sort of jobs that do not require a sustained periods or concentration or, dare I say it, even productivity. They are the people with jobs requiring significant levels of informal communication or who always ended up spending more time catching up with the wider office than doing 'work'. So if this never was you you won't magically become that kind of person.
posted by koahiatamadl at 4:13 AM on January 16, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for your replies. I am feeling that aside from looking for professional groups and connections, from a social standpoint I'd rather post on Facebook once I have moved on a step in life, not treading water as I am doing right now.
posted by bad grammar at 3:17 PM on January 16, 2011

« Older Faces   |   Orange'd! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.