Thing 5. Online networking: an expat’s view of Facebook & Twitter

The focus of Thing 5 is Facebook and Twitter.  Being an expat has shaped my interaction with these two platforms, both negatively and positively.

Facebook, by Christopher on Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
I don’t like Facebook.  A few years ago, logging onto Facebook BEFORE BREAKFAST became the most important part of my day, and also the most painful, as I watched friends and family living their lives in familiar places and hanging out with each other. It made me so depressed. Because I missed the familiarity of home, friends and family, and I wanted to be a part of their lives, I spent longer and longer on Facebook. One day I realised this was eating away at my time and emotions to the exclusion of what mattered.  I came to my senses, deactivated my account, and made the choice to get on with expat living!

CC Open domain.
CC Open domain.
Some days the expat-adventure is jam packed with discovery and excitement, with the exotic and the oddly bizarre…


Crazy Camel, by Jeremy Vandel on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


…on others you have to dig deep to rise above it all, or you become bogged down in a desire to give it all up prematurely, wishing you could head home. Home.  After a while you have to work hard at recalling the familiar and ‘home’ becomes a blurry concept. (Ok, after 15 years at least, for me.  😀  )

At its best, expat life influences and moulds you, defines who you become – your thinking, your outlook, attitudes, worldview, toleration levels… all these are enlarged, challenged, tested and you find the need to constantly have a conversation with yourself.  This introspection is good…if you keep a sense of humour, you can find your quirky side, your weaknesses, your oddities, and hopefully begin to view yourself as others see you, and to criticise others less.


CC 0 image from Unsplash

The blinkers fall off.  For example, you gain insight as to why some don’t look you in the eye or give a firm handshake while greeting, because in some cultures a firm handshake is regarded as offensive; some consider the support of relations back home more important than spending on the latest fashion fad or fancy travel. You begin to have empathy for those who speak your language, albeit not perfectly.  You find that the way you use a word can be horribly misunderstood.  You find that some people have courtesies that must be respected and adhered to before you get on with the business at hand, and you are constantly exposed to many different possibilities on how to approach life’s complexities.

So what has all this to do with online networks and Facebook?  Fifteen years as an expat has changed me.  I’m not the person I was when we left our home country.  My online network habits will reflect that. Today I am ready to explore Facebook again. I still don’t like it, but I have subscribed again under a new email address, for professional purposes. It didn’t take them long to link me up (Facebook-style) with everyone (ever) in my life. (Creepy, how they do this.)  I hav just discovered an article that shows why Facebook can also contribute to insular approach with the latest tweak to their algorithm…to quote from it…

“…it means you’ll almost certainly see an even less diverse range of opinions and news than you already do.”

But if we are aware of this, we can help make the choice as to what we would like to see in our timeline. I took an hour to check privacy settings according to this article, and to explore the new user interface. If you want to follow me, you’re most welcome, but this is primarily an account for my librarianship interests. 😀

This time I have a career goal and I know where I’m headed. My view of the world is enlarged, so I’m going to let Facebook work for me, not against me. My interests now are libraries and their impact on society. And wonderful innovative librarians that I can learn from. And all things info!  Digital data! Techie stuff! Entrepreneurial ideas. Makerspaces. Social outreach. These will be the pages I follow. In Rudai23 Thing 5 , Bobbi Newman’s article  from a few years ago is listed, suggesting 6 Facebook pages for librarians to follow. These are still valid today, and I have chosen 4 of them to follow.  I will log onto Facebook when I have time on my hands and when the time is right, because I’m older, wiser and more at peace with myself and where I am. Admittedly, I still wish I was settled and not an expat, but until I am, I will use Facebook to reach out to connections that I can grow and learn from.

Moving on to the micro-blogging site Twitter…Twitter logo

…here is my fav!  I subscribed in 2011 and have thoroughly enjoyed the interaction.

Image by Matt Hamm  CC BY-NC 2.0

My twitter

Kay Oddone’s blog entry on Twitter brings its value across, as she encourages newbies to get tweeting.  For me personally, it is the most important go-to source for professional development.  Kay mentioned ‘lurking’ on Twitter until one is confident to add your voice – that is precisely what I did.  Here is how I commented on Kay’s article:

And speaking of ‘lurking’…I lurked until I was confident enough to find my voice. Not being able to have ‘librorum’ conversations face to face, Twitter filled that gap.

It has often taken me out of my isolated expat situation and is probably why I’m hooked! However, I’m constantly challenged to do, and to know, more by fellow professionals via Twitter, and always amazed at how much I discover each time I’m on the app. 🙂

It has been nothing but a positive experience for me. Yes, I made the odd mishap initially, by getting involved in political debates, and venting, but you learn fast. Within Kay’s article there was a link to some great ideas to tweet about, by George Couros, as well as a list of what NOT to tweet about.  (Remember the debacle with the unfortunate tweet by a PR Exec in 2013?)

Twitter chats are fun and really get you thinking. Remember, tweets are public and you are held accountable for what you say. I often worry that what I say is unimportant, or silly, but someone, somewhere in the world, is always kind, appreciative and encouraging. I follow and learn from librarians globally. Here are 9 of many accounts I recommend:  Liz McGettican, LWB_Online, Michelle Luhtala, Jan Holmquist, Sally Pewhairangi, Lyndelle Gunton, Gwyneth Jones, Bobbi Newman and my personal favourite, International Librarians Network. Look at their accounts and who they follow, to get ideas to build your own PLN (personal learning network).

In my opinion, with both Facebook and Twitter, you need to be yourself (be authentic), but act professionally if you want to be viewed as a professional. I know librarians can really let their hair down…(buns loose)… :p  but if you post a pic of yourself with that interesting cocktail, try to avoid the Miley-Cyrus-style hang out.  🙂

Miley Cyrus tongue out

Miley Cyrus by Paul Vera-Broadbent  (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Show your interests and interact with others as soon as you feel confident to do so. They will appreciate it. In fact, most people are very helpful and kind. Share your knowledge, show your skills; pass on interesting news and links you find; investigate the things you have not heard of before, and encourage and engage others. Your followers will grow and mutual learning takes place.

The world of Twitter is exciting and vibrant. I’ve just read an article that reveals Twitter will soon be rolling out an update to include emoticon stickers for photos, making it even more fun to connect to people and to collaborate.


Emoticons by Becky McCray


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 rose_06   Clipart from


Author: LibSandy

Durate, et vosmet rebus servate secondis. (Endure for a while, and live for a happier day.) Librarian, wife & mother. Expat.

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