Every once in a while the topic of Facebook comes up in conversation.
“Do you ‘friend’ your professors?” people ask me. “When you were a TA, did you friend your students?”
Answer: no. As long as someone is in a position where they might have to grade me (in class, as a committee member, or even when I give the departmental seminar), I would not friend them. As long as I am in a position where I might have to grade someone, I would not friend them.
I would certainly not friend my advisor even though she’s a great person and I like to talk to her. Not until after I graduate, anyway. (Conveniently, she has no interest in getting a Facebook account.)
Not everyone feels this way, of course. In Dr. J’s group, friending of all group members + advisor is mandatory–it’s how Dr. J keeps track of where all of his students are, since he has a huge group and at least one person is on travel at any given time. Every time I hear about this policy I shudder and thank God that I didn’t choose Dr. J’s group.
My inherent problem with friending professors/students is that I sometimes complain on Facebook. I grumbled that the average on the final exam in Chem 1 was absurdly low. I whined about being in charge of all of the packing for our research cruises. I have complained on more than one occasion about departmental politics. These are not the sorts of things I want my profs (or students) to hear.
I suppose if I were the sort of person who only posted cheery, positive statuses, like “Nate got a 5 on his AP test!!” or “Al got his driver’s license” or the like, I could friend everyone who asked. But I don’t.
So I have no problem with connecting with these people on LinkedIn, because that’s all business and not personal at all. But Facebook? No. Sorry.