Sunday, October 12, 2008

Facebook, Safety Schools, and Victorianism over Literacy

Ok, here's a hard sell. TechDirt recently ran a story, " Rejected From College Because of Your Facebook Profile", in which anecdotal evidence shows what has been rumored for much time...that admissions folks gander more than occasionally at applicants' online social network profiles. The author, Mike Masnick, gives a pretty fair accounting though ultimately concludes that applicants shouldn't expect their profiles to exist in a vacuum and that as much as applicants strive to "put their best foot forward" they should include their Facebook profiles in such efforts.

Yeah, yeah, yeah...I think most individuals get this. Sure, there will be those that claim this is out of bounds and not appropriate use of admissions staff time. That aside, I'd like to argue that such snooping and censure is simply out of step with with what we need to be critical of in our cyberculture present and future. If our young digital native scholars are as much the person they represent and broadcast on Facebook, then why don't we scrutinize things like the literacy skills that go into (or don't) Facebook representation. If we take this line of critique, even the current gawk and lament gang has a "way in"...they could lambaste applicants who are unaware of the rhetorical context within which they exist. Basically the same path currently taken, but without the tacit Victorianism that's at work currently (the Victorianism that suggests "we know you do these sordid things we just don't want to see them).

I'd like to see an acknowledgement of the spaces and identities that young people (and old people too) create. If we can remark on those spaces versus merely trying to censure (and censor) OSN users, then we can get into a realistic and progressive discussion/development of and otherwise. Then an actual (and virtual) conversation over creativity, stupidity, reinscription, and possibility can take place.

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