"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Monday, October 27, 2008

Facebooking It

I joined the world of Facebook a few weeks ago. After all, I have a blog, so why not a Facebook page? I really wasn’t positive what I was getting into, and quite frankly, I’m still not sure. In fact, I recently asked one of my daughter-in-loves, “What’s the point of this?” Her answer: “To stay in touch.” She told me that young people don’t IM or email anymore, and that if she wants to get a word out to her youth, she puts it on Facebook. But she’s a youth minister; I am not. For young couples looking to announce their engagement, I've also been told that it's not "official" until it appears on Facebook. On the other hand, if a young man wants to know the status of that young woman, he just goes to Facebook. There's as much information about a person to be gained as that person is willing to share.

But if I’ve learned anything having a page, I’ve learned what it means to “network.” I’m not sure I really understood that until now. When I become a “friend” with someone else, it immediately sends me a list (with pictures) of their “friends” that I just might know. It’s pretty cool, I must admit. Just recently, a young couple here in town got married. They knew each other in Mississippi when they were in grammar school, found each other a decade+ later on Facebook, through other "friends," and got reacquainted – to the point of marriage! Now that’s some networking.

I hear other stories like that, but so far I haven’t really “found” anybody that was missing. Every one with whom I’ve become a “friend,” I already knew where they were, to whom they were married, and even how many children they had. No big surprises. Of course, the issue may be with my ineptitude at knowing how to search for these long lost “friends.”

I laughed with one friend at church the other evening when he suggested that actually knowing his facebook “friends” was inconsequential. He just clicks “accept” when he gets a friend request. I thought it funny – until I, too, received a request from someone I didn’t know. I probably tend to be a little more selective; but that’s just me. I never have had a large number of friends – even while growing up. Today, I could count on one hand who my truly close friends are, and even that list spans a 30-year period.

Facebook is fine. If used correctly, there’s nothing “horrible” or “evil” about it. However, I do suggest that all parents with children who have Facebook pages get their own page as well and insist that child be their “friend.” But here’s my problem with facebook. Relationship. Thus far, of the 40+ who have accepted my request to be my “friend” or whose request I have accepted, I’ve probably only truly connected by corresponding with about 5 of them. For the rest of them, we’re just listed as “friends” on each other’s pages. Yes, I can go to their page and see what they’re up to just as they can mine. But Webster defines a friend as “a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard; a person who gives assistance.” It lists synonyms as “comrade, chum, confidant; backer, advocate.” I don’t find any of that on Facebook. A way of keeping up with people’s lives? Absolutely. Fun? Yes. Addictive? For some. But relationship? No.

One of the most common lines you’ll hear when discussing Facebook is this: “I have _(number)_ of friends.” And some of those numbers are even in the thousands. Never in all of history have we been more connected. But, honestly, have we ever been lonelier?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

After writing that how will you ever show your face on Facebook again - just kidding!

It is a strange world in which we live. People communicate with me now via Facebook but I would rather have a phone call or an e-mail. Still it is a way of keeping up and communicating. I'll just accept it at that.