Richard Scott Nokes, a professor of English at Troy University, in Alabama, knows how that goes. A student once approached him late in the week to ask for an extension on an assignment. He said he was going to a relative's funeral. Mr. Nokes happened to sign on to Facebook a few days later, and something in his news feed — the site's voyeuristic compilation of friends' updates — caught his eye.
There was a new picture of the bereaved student, posted by a friend, on the beach in Panama City, Fla. Mr. Nokes, who had suspected as much, decided not to say anything. "I guess it's not the first time I've been lied to by a student," he says. But "it was the first time I had a photograph."
A little clarification here -- in this story, the student was at the beach, not on the beach; i.e. he was at a bar on the beach, and the photo had a caption identifying it. The confusion is probably my fault, however, not Sara Lipka's, because she called twice, and the second time I spoke to her I forgot about which incident I had told her, and started telling her a slightly different story. In fact, variations on this story have happened a couple of times -- usually it's students at Panama City Beach claiming to be sick or at a funeral. When I switched stories midway through (and at one point I think I started talking about a female student, when the original had been a male), Lipka and I had a moment of confusion. I think for a moment she thought I might be making it up. Alas, I was not.
My only regret about the article is that she doesn't call the News Feed by its more common epithet (around my campus, anyway): the stalker feed. Whether you want to be a stalker or not, Facebook is going to force that status on you.
*If you are an academic and don't read the Chronicle, what exactly is your major malfunction?