Thursday, November 11, 2010


Think about social media and the way it changes things. Never before has there been a time you could, at the click of a mouse, connect with your best friend from third grade. Your mom. Or your insurance agent. Or your child's grade school teacher.
So where do you draw the line? With whom do you connect or not connect?
We all have our own thoughts about this.
As a writer my guidelines are a bit expansive. Not only do I connect with family and close friends, church family and old acquaintances, but with bloggers, authors, publishers and other industry insiders. People I'm genuinely interested in, and people I need to know, too. It's part marketing for myself and my writing. Networking.
My daughters' art teacher is also my church sister. Under that latter premise we are connected on Facebook. We are part of each other's lives. What's curious is that I can see she is friends with all her co-workers--the other teachers who fill my daughters' days.
Sometimes I think I'd like to connect with them, because I'm interested in who they are, in their lives, their comings and goings. We could be friends. You know, real pals. What's to stop us? And then there's the networking benefit, too, the getting my writing out there to as many people as possible.
I haven't connected with them, because I don't want to cross that line. That professional school-is-school and home-is-home line.
But is there a line? Even with the way social media has changed things?
When has it ever before been appropriate for parents to connect with our kids' teachers, outside the school setting?
Is it appropriate now? Since educators push the idea that parents and instructors really are a team who must work together?
I'm not asking for advice, I just want to know your thoughts. How do you handle social media, and what's your personal rule for the connections you make?


Travis Erwin said...

Like You I cast a wide net for promotion purposes, but I warn people from church school and other places that what they are gonna see is me trying to be humorous and get my name out and about in the world.

I'm a tad more reserved int eh real world.

Susan R. Mills said...

Excellent question! Let me know if you come up with an answer because I certainly don't have one. :)

Jill said...

Because I also use facebook et al for networking as well as social interaction, I've faced the same dilemma. I've reached out to people I probably wouldn't have otherwise--because I'm more reserved in public--and that's allowed them to more truly get to know me. But at the same time, I'm not as truly "me" online as I might be if I were simply chatting with family and close friends. I think it's a trade off I've had to make. There are some funny things I'd share online, but I won't because it's not something I want all these nodding acquaintances to know.
Good topic.

Melissa Gill said...

I have a facebook account, but I rarely use it. I should probably do more, but I'm more focused on my blog for promoting my writing.

Anonymous said...

My social networking has evolved a couple of times, and will probably morph again. I got on FB to see what was out there (and see what my kids were doing). I started blogging for the writing world. Then I got on Twitter after a conference class on social media, and things changed a bit. I pretty much now do FB for personal/church. There are some writer connections on there as well, but that's not my main source. I have my Twitter TweetDeck set up solely for the writing industry...writers, agents, editors...and I love it. I've really plugged into some amazing territory. There's no personal connections in there, it's like a constant newsfeed of everything WRITERLY! Blogging I'm supposed to be setting up to target potential readers, and I tried that, but I found I was never updating it. I will do that later when I have readers...LOL...right now, it's for my writer friends. Speaking of which, I need to update awol.

I don't put much personal info out on the web though. My blogger friends know I'm married with kids, but there are no names. My daughter is Crazy Girl. On FB there are names, but I keep the talking to topics, and don't divulge addresses/phone/whether I'm home alone... Twitter there is nothing personal.

I have made some phenomenal friends in this online universe though!

Tess said...

I mix it all up...try to be true to who I am...and remember never to post or say anything I or my kiddos would blush at.

Jules said...

Following links back :) My personal guideline is this; If I'd connect in real life I will on-line. The teacher/school/church aspect personally I feel you should. My parents knew my teachers and I think it help both know me as a person more completely. Just saying.. :D
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Karen said...

That can be a tough one! If the situation arises in interest, go for it, or if it's a bit touchy, I don't.

Above all, I try to listen to the Spirit in my heart.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

The 'rules' are certainly blurry now with social media. I think people are more open to connecting with near strangers.

Carol said...

Good to meet you on my blog earlier today!

I have found Facebook a great way to reconnect with many people who have come in and out of my life.
Our 25th school reunion was made possible through Facebook.

My teen childrens' friends are "friends" on facebook too.

At the moment I am a SAHM but a few years ago I was a teaching assistant and I think back then, if I had been on Facebook, I would not have connected with so many people. Some of my "friends" are parents of ex-pupils.


Joanne said...

It's an interesting question, but I don't fb so I'm not really sure. Like you, though, I'd feel there was a professional line that I wouldn't cross with the group of teachers, unless of course the teachers put it out there in the beginning of the year in family correspondence, inviting the connections. Otherwise, I'd probably hold off.

Jeanette Levellie said...

What a great question, one I haven't seen asked on a blog before.

I friend and accept requests from people I see are friends with those I trust, but if I get a request from someone who looks like they're advertising push up bras or has a steamy book cover as their profile pic, I'm outta there. I've had to block people from following me, even, which I don't like, but this is my soul, and I get to say what I put in it. Networking is great, and I love FB for that fact, and to keep in touch with our family.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Janna -

I have friends, family, former schoolmates, and, of course, writer friends on my Facebook account. I also include those folks, who might be interested as readers and ministry connections.

Yeah, that's a lot of people.

Susan :)

Jessie Oliveros said...

I have more than one facebook for writing and one for friends and family. Right now, I hardly use the one for writing but I sort of consider it my "professional" account. I've "friended" my son's preschool teacher on facebook, and she's even sent me a few encouraging words about him through facebook.

Joyce said...

The teacher question is interesting. My brother is not on fb. He is a high school counselor and didn't want to go there with students or parents. If my child's teacher were on I'd friend her and leave it to her to accept or not ... I'd understand if she did not. I would probably not friend her co workers unless I had direct interactions with them myself.

I know all my fb friend in rl with the exception of those who found me thru my blog. Even then they are usually readers I had emailed with for a while before we connected on fb.

Thanks for visiting my blog...have a great weekend!

Heather Sunseri said...

It's definitely a difficult balance to strike as writers. I'm not likely to "friend" a person on Facebook that I don't know at all. I'm friends with my flesh and blood friends and aquaintances and I'm friends with people I've connected with online, but if I've never heard of the person or have no friends in common with a person, I don't accept a friend request. I need to have a personal relationship with someone b/f I'm friends with them on Facebook. Now, of course we can all define "personal relationship" differently and I think each person must define that for him or herself.

I do like how you point out that we've never before had relationships with school teachers, etc. I live in a small town, and it's near impossible not to have a relationship with most of the teachers.

Southpaw said...

I don't use Facebook so it's not something I need to worry about - and worry I would.;)

Sharon Lovejoy said...

The odd thing is that many times those I've met and written back and forth have somehow stepped into my private life more easily than real live people.

I have a huge wall (honestly) and locked gates around my home for privacy. But I've met people on line who would be welcome to ring the bell and step inside. I don't know why, but somehow we cut through the small talk and get to know others.

Am I too trusting?

Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

Debbie said...

I don't think I'd friend a kid's teacher until he or she was no longer in the class. I accept very few friend requests on fb. My kids laugh at me for that but it makes my life much simpler.

Unknown said...

I have two separate facebook accounts, one for writer me and one for family. I'm kind of with you on the work is work. I don't have any work friends as facebook buddies.

septembermom said...

I'm smiling to think of our recent FB discussion and I didn't even know that you posted this topic. LOL. Great minds think alike. When it comes to my online "presence," I'm careful with what I post about my personal life. Overall, I do love connecting this way with the varied people who cross through my life. It's fun to feel in tune with those folks.

gael lynch said...

Janna, I do connect with the parents of my students, especially right after they've moved on. I have a relationship with them built around our favorite person: their child! I want to watch them change and grow as people, and celebrate all they become. But. I know I can't speak for other teachers. It is a daunting job in this world, and I do think they need to be able to move on and refill their emotional energy bank each time a child leaves their tenure. I think a parent always knows if they're getting the right vibe from a teacher. I do draw the line at students, though...mine are 6th graders, so I tell them they can check in with me when they reach the end of high school. By then, I'm not so worried about
people making any strange misinterpretations about it, I don't think. Well anyway...that's more than my two cents, but there you go! ;)

Java said...


Thanks for stopping by and visiting me! You can definitely still play along whether or not you are 40! lol...wanna trade places? :)

I am now following you!

Have a great Sunday!

Kathryn Magendie said...

Since I do what I do, my range of "social networking friends" is broad, too -- publishing/book industry, family, friends, old school chums, readers - etc -- I've had good positive energy so far without problems and am hoping it stays that way! :-D -- I am always mindful of who I request and admit most times I let people come to me rather than the other way around . . . but mostly because I'm busy and distracted and ....shy!

Melanie Hooyenga said...

I struggle with the work dynamic. I've had to unfriend my boss because ... well, it's a long story, but I'm debating unfriending a couple others there as well. If there's ever a time for utilizing the privacy settings, that's it.

Shirley Corder said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shirley Corder said...

Thanks for visiting my writers' site, Janna ( This is a good question. I like the thought of holding two FB accounts - one for personal and one for writers - but I run two blogs and have Linked In, Face Book and Shout Life. Not sure I could cope with anything more and still get any writing done!

Capri K @ No Whining Allowed said...

I have no Facebook. GASP!
I know, stone age, right?

Deb Shucka said...

When I was in the classroom, I didn't have my Facebook account yet. I did form friendships with some of my parents ( some still going after years) and I would have been fine friending them on Facebook. I'm careful with my page, though - don't use it to expose deep dark secrets. I'm saving those for my memoir. :-)

Diana said...

Janna, thanks much for stopping by and for your kind comments.

This is such a interesting topic. Right now facebook is pretty much family and friends, a few coworkers. I use twitter more for business connections, though not very much at the moment. I've thought about this already, how would it change if my business grew and clients and others became fb friends...mmmmm... will need to ponder some more I think, and cross that bridge when I come to it.

kario said...

I do worry about connecting too far and wide, partially to protect myself and my family since I write about some sensitive issues, but also because I think that people tend to censor themselves a little bit when they know their audience is wider. I also don't ever want to put anyone in the awkward position of having to 'refuse' a FB friendship with me.

Thanks for visiting my blog!

graceonline said...

I'm new to FB so don't have good answers for you about that, though I think the new groups feature is supposed to address some concerns about who gets to see what in our posts.

As for crossing the line between teachers and friends, I was married to a teacher in our then small town and knew many of the teachers who lived and worked there. My daughters' teachers throughout their twelve years attended most of the parties we attended. Our children were on the same ball teams, in the same dance classes.

I must say, at a party, one learns a good deal more than one might want to about the person charged with shaping one's child's mind six hours a day five days a week.

But I think of the way the people of Ladakh (I write about them on my blog) work and play together, and how amiable their lifestyle was prior to western encroachment, and I have to think that communicating with one another, knowing one another well, is a good thing. Good for our immediate lives, and good for the planet.