Friday, July 11, 2008

My Short Life in "the" Facebook

Signs I just don't get it -

So I get an email a few weeks ago from a "friend" and fellow church member inviting me to join a special St. John's group on Facebook. I've never been on "the" Facebook. It's just not a world I've navigated in.

But the thought of finding a way to continue networking with my congregation is always a good thing, so I signed up.

I signed off today. And it's not my "friend's" fault.

I just can't do it.

One. I don't understand it. No sooner had I signed up than I got requests from people wanting to be "my friend."

Fellow congregants...sure, that was the point.
Former congregants... hey, o.k. - a chance to catch up with people I've served.
Colleagues some of whom I only sorta know...uhhh, o.k., I guess so.

My own son asked to be my friend.

This whole "friend" thing. What is that?

And then it hit me. This is simply one more social system to live in, except you don't actually have to "be" with the people you're connected to. No, they just rack up in the tally of how many friends you have.

I know this says more about me than anyone else, but I didn't have a lot of folks in my life that I called "friend" growing up. The reasons for that, at the least the ones I'm consciously aware of, are varied and probably more appropriately spoken from a therapist's couch rather than a rambling blog post. Don't get me wrong, I had friends, but always in small packs.

Come to think of it, I don't really have a bunch of folks I call "friend" now, for that matter.

"Friend" is a loaded word for me. It is given by me only where trust, unconditional acceptance, and the celebration of authenticity dwell.

Those relationships holding that character for me are treasures and validate the reality of grace. That I can be loved, me, for who I am - the good, bad, and the ugly - has to be of God.

Now, I do have more than a few acquaintances. And I like some of them.

So, the "friend" thing on Facebook just didn't quite sit well - -

But for those of you who live in that world -
  1. Is ignoring a "friend" request a passive "no?"
  2. Is answering "yes" to a friend request that doesn't hold the same, shall we say, "value" to you of someone else merely suggest the appearance of civility and not what is true?
  3. And, does doing this in a little cyberworld make any sense whatsoever?
  4. What does it mean to write on a person's wall?
  5. Do I even want to know what it means to poke somebody?

Am I over analyzing this?

During this week as my age reaches a new number, I'm willing to accept that my inability to handle this world could illicit a response from others comparable to mine some 25 years ago when I couldn't understand how/why older folks I know and love couldn't program the clock on their VCRs that kept flashing 12:00 (For those of you too young to know what a VCR is, hit the link).

I know that many people spend a lot of time on Facebook and MySpace. I've seen it, and I saw how easily that could be me. I don't judge that time spent by others, except when it's my kids who are doing that instead of their homework.

But the truth is, I've got more than enough world to live in now, plenty enough to navigate through, and more than enough to manage. One more level of social expectation is too much for me. What I seek to do, "dearly beloved," is be more attentive to the worlds I circulate in just by trying "to get through" what the 1980's prophet, Prince, referred to as "this thing called life." (from, of course, the prologue to that glorious anthem,"Let's Go Crazy.")

So, I abruptly left the Facebook world about as hastily as I joined it.

And boy was I relieved.

Hope y'all are still my friends. Really.

1 comment:

Divers and Sundry said...

1. Yes, but don't take it personally.

2. No, but the word "friend" has more than one definition. Saying "yes" to a friend request on Facebook doesn't require the "trust, unconditional acceptance, and the celebration of authenticity" that your personal definition of "friend" requires. I think of it more as a willingness to connect on some level.

3. It makes sense to some people.

4. It's just a note or message, but you can send messages privately if you're uncomfortable posting on someone's wall and you can set your privacy settings accordingly if you're uncomfortable having folks post on yours.

5. I think of a "poke" as saying, "I was on Facebook and thought of you." To me it's akin to waving to someone.

Some people enjoy gathering large numbers of Facebook "friends" while others just "friend" people from a very small circle. It's a personal decision.

Probably your Facebook-savvy son could help you understand the language. That might help you evaluate Facebook's possible usefulness to you.

It's much more interactive and conversational than blogging, and serves a different purpose. I know several people who gave up their blogs when they discovered LiveJournal or MySpace or Facebook, because they preferred the more communal nature of those. It's a matter of personal preference.

Then there's Second Life, which I've never tried. There's a Methodist presence there, and some of the bloggers I read watched the livecasts from General Conference together in Second Life. They seemed to enjoy that.