Old Dogs, New Tricks

A blog for non-traditional students

To Facebook Or Not To Facebook

I’m in a quandary.  It seems like I’m being left behind by the waves of people flocking to Facebook as the new way to interact with each other.  Not that this is tremendously surprising – I never got around to making a MySpace page either.   One of the reasons I’m reluctant to join the masses is that some employers now check Facebook and MySpace for potential employees and can use what they find there as a reason to not hire you.  Of course, at the age of 33 and being a Christian single mother, the odds of my having anything objectionable on my page would be minimal.  It’s not like I’m a party animal or an exhibitionist so I’m not likely to have a lot of pictures of myself stumbling drunk or, um…, stark naked.

I also worry that maybe it seems like I’m too old for this sort of thing.  I mean, Facebook originally started out as a social networking site for college students.  Okay, so I am a college student, but as a non-traditional, I often feel like I’m not really a part of college life.  It sort of feels like I can label myself as college student, but it’s just some sort of subtle fib based on a technicality.  But I guess the whole issue is moot now that Facebook is open to and used by all kinds of people.

Then there’s the whole issue of who I might find – or who might find me – if I put myself out there.  My best friend of nearly 20 years just created a Facebook page and while she’s enjoying connecting with her friends, she’s gotten scoped out by people she isn’t even sure if she knows, and certainly doesn’t remember – like people we went to high school with.  She sent me a text message the other night asking me if we knew this woman who had requested to be added to her friends (or however that works) – while the name was vaguely familiar, I couldn’t place her so it makes me wonder who would search me out there.  On the other end of the spectrum is the possibility of finding people who have disappeared from my life over the years, only to discover something totally shocking about them.  For instance, again relying on my friend’s new adventures, she looked up my (nominal) boyfriend who moved to Missouri last March to take care of his ailing father.  I haven’t heard from the guy in months, and since we were together for seven years, my family and friends (both his and mine) frequently ask me how he’s doing.  Well, thanks to my friend, I finally have an answer to that question:  He’s freaking married!!!  Without so much as a note saying “Let’s see other people” or even “I’ve found someone else and I’m getting married.”  I feel vaguely like I’ve been kicked in the stomach and a little bit betrayed – saying nothing for how my family, particularly my parents, feel.

So, while I feel like it’s nearly expected of me to follow the lemming-like stream of people to Facebook, I’m left wondering if it’s a great idea for me personally.  I admit that on those few occasions when I’ve looked up someone on Facebook, I was annoyed that I couldn’t view more of their pages.  So maybe I’ll go ahead and jump off the proverbial cliff and create a page/site/whatever – I just hope the leap works out better for me than it does for the lemmings.

*** Danielle

February 28, 2009 Posted by | Technology | 4 Comments

Technological Hiccups

Okay, so I’m a complete bonehead because I forgot how long it takes to print a .PDF in the McMicken computer lab – I’m waiting for two of them (13 and 14 pages respectively) to print right now.  I am so embarrassed at the backlog of other people waiting at the printer.  I guess it’s a sign of old age that I forgot something so annoying, right?  *sigh*

But thinking about this technological faux pas, I realized that I hadn’t posted about the interesting observation/suggestion one of my traditional classmates made about the lack of comments on my blog.  She suggested that maybe the reason no one has anything to say here is because they don’t know how – making that oh-so-common generalization that we non-traditionals are completely hopeless with anything more complicated than a TV remote.  I’m mildly offended, but not surprised – it takes people a while to figure out that I actually have a fairly decent grasp on computer stuff.  Of course, it helps that the first computer I ever learned to use was an Apple IIe back in 1984 – and I’ve kept up as best I could ever since.

This land of unfair assumptions became clearer to me last night when I was roaming around the Internet on a Google search for non-traditional student forums (I’ve got to find someone to talk to, after all).  I came across a discussion between a graduate assistant, TA or whatever you call them, and a group of non-traditionals.  The TA made these sweeping generalizations that non-traditionals all want to talk about their experiences during the Vietnam War or ramble on about the good old days of Hendrix and Jim Morrison.  Um, I was born right after the US officially pulled out of Vietnam and as for the Jims, well I wasn’t alive in their heyday, but I appreciate ’60s rock as much as the next Gen-Xer. 

In response, of course, one of my nearer peers (a 38 year old I think) asserted that non-traditional students are much harder workers and less disruptive in classes.  Eh, I hate to burst his bubble, but I procrastinate with the best of them and let’s just say that I’m as easily swayed by my younger peers to gossip and whisper during a lecture as anyone.  Admittedly, since I’ve already messed this up once, I do feel obligated to put forth a better effort than I did the first time around, but considering that I only managed to pass Bowling my second quarter of my original college career, just what better looks like remains to be seen.

Alright, I had to cancel my print after the third time the guy who mans the desk here came over and asked me how much more I had left to print.  I’m off to my next exciting task – finding a book in Blegen Library – provided I can find Blegen Library.  In the three years I’ve been down here, I don’t think I’ve ever even walked past that building, lol.

By the way, check out my two new links – I found a website for an organization for non-trads in college and a blog hosted by another non-trad, this one from Western Kentucky University.  And if for some reason you really can’t figure out how to comment here, you can send me a messenger pigeon – I’m on campus Monday through Thursday normally, most of the time in McMicken.  I’ll keep an eye out for parcel-laden birds.  🙂

*** Danielle

February 20, 2009 Posted by | Generation Gap, Technology | 3 Comments

Moving Day

Just a brief explanation for the new location of my blog:  I was unable to overcome the technical glitches that plagued my earlier posts, so I picked the blog up in its entirety and moved it to this new, streamlined site.  I will be posting my thoughts on another type of moving-day topic – the graduate and family housing situation – later this weekend.  I’m working on pulling together some more specific information and a couple links.

So welcome to the new site and if there’s something you want to talk about – TELL ME!!! 🙂

*** Danielle

January 10, 2009 Posted by | Student Life, Technology | Leave a comment

Techno-Envy

Technical difficulties, plus my entire weekend without the ‘net inspired me to talk about tech and how non-traditionals look at its widespread use on campus.

Okay, I admit it – I’d be lost without my emails and cellphone  – I know since my Zoomtown crashed last Friday and was down until Tuesday.  It wasn’t until I was rushing around with my laptop trying to find a free WiFi hotspot on Sunday that I realized how ridiculously dependent I was on my computer.  That realization turned to irritation as I thought about why I was so desperate to get online – I had three classes with projects due this week that required extensive use of the internet, plus I needed to try to straighten up this blog. 

I understand how useful the web is for professors.  It allows them to communicate efficiently outside of class with everyone, covering those who were absent or anyone who couldn’t hear that final instruction over the din of scraping chairs and zipping bookbags (is that an old fart word?).  But since I can’t do anything online while I’m driving back and forth to school and I can’t get online when I’m at my son’s soccer games or visiting my ailing grandparents or at lunch with my extended family… well let’s just say that although I appreciate the convenience of BlackBoard and wikis, I miss the good old days when homework involved a book and some paper – maybe a trip to the library.

Of course, all I have to do to realize the good old days are gone is glance around the McMicken quad between classes as we all rush to and fro.  The number of students with cellphones glued to their hands (or ears, for those lucky few with bluetooth headsets) or bopping along (another old fart slip) to their I-Pods blows me away every day.  I always think about when cellphones were so big they barely fit in briefcases, and the best way to take music with you was a Sony Walkman – the old cassette tape variety.

I remember when pay phones were scattered every people might gather – especially the malls, which had banks and banks of phones lined up along walls near the entrances and rest rooms.  Nowadays, most young people just wrinkle their brow in confusion if you ask them where the pay phone is – “Um, here’s the store phone, and I guess someone pays for it.”

Text messaging has replaced the unavoidable sea of beeping pagers of my youth.  Email is now not a luxury or an optional way of communicating but a vital necessity that we cannot get along without.  Forget about going to the library to research that paper – now we just hop online and peruse article databases while sitting at home in our jammies (alright that’s just little old lady – I’ll stop).

I’m not against life being easier, but something else has changed with our high-speed expectations.  It’s awful, but personal interactions are way less – well, personal – now and it’s particularly bad among our younger classmates.  Grammar is no longer a valued skill, and between spell check and text-lingo, vocabularies are losing substantial words – although they are being replaced, at least in some part, by little nuggets like BFF and AFAIK.

So maybe it sounds like sour grapes, and sure, I’m jealous that I had to learn how to type on actual typewriters (even a manual one) and if I wanted to talk to a teacher about something I had to hang around after class and be late to my next one.  But I worry a lot – especially about my son – that young people today are losing out on a valuable lesson that slower work and production instills in them – patience.  Not to mention the concept of delay of gratification.

*** Danielle

January 10, 2009 Posted by | Technology | Leave a comment