Deliberating

Time Magazine named Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, the 2010 Person of the Year, pointing out that Facebook “has changed the way human beings relate to one another on a species-wide scale.” I don’t disagree; I’m just not sure I like it.

I’ve been toying with the idea of getting out of Facebook entirely. I haven’t done it yet; I still log on several times a day to read other people’s updates, though I haven’t posted my own in quite a while. I’m not ready to go cold turkey, I think, but I am debating how much – if any – quality it adds to my life. No coherent argument either way yet, just some collected thoughts:

1. None of our siblings use Facebook. That means no updates about our niece or my sister’s new life in Boston. When I log on to “connect and share with the people in my life” (as the site claims to help us do) the people I most want to connect to aren’t there. I’m not complaining – and kudos to them for not caving to the pressure – I just wonder if it’s worth it.

2. In the two years since I became a regular user, I’ve amassed a very odd collection of friends. There are the college and seminary friends I still keep in touch with, one high school friend, and an assortment of other people I don’t really have any meaningful relationship with anymore. There are several professional connections, including several people I’ve never actually met in person (and sometimes, I feel like I know more about their lives than I do about my friends who live here in town). In other words, I think there’s still a huge gap between “Facebook friend” and “friend.” I’d rather have actual friends.

3. There are a handful of people whose status updates I appreciate every time, and those are people I’m friends with in real life as well. I love hearing about their kids’ latest antics, and I like knowing when things aren’t going well. Most of my other friends are really just acquaintances, and their updates are little glimpses into a life I know little about.

4. I do like sending out little snippets of my own life into the world. I like crafting the words just right to capture what I’m feeling just then, and I like the response that tells me somebody’s paying attention.

5. There’s the ongoing debate about friending church members: I wouldn’t worry about having to watch what I post; I would worry about having to be publicly “on” all the time – even more than usual. If I’m at home in the evening and see a post from a church member that needs a pastoral response, do I respond right then? Or do I limit my facebook viewing to office hours? Wouldn’t it be simpler not to do it at all? On the other hand, I can see the value of using Facebook to connect church members to each other, or to promote events. And believe it or not, I really do see how it could be a source of great support and comfort to people in dark times.

6. I don’t like communicating over Facebook. Please, just send me an old-fashioned email.

7. This is at least the second time I’ve blogged about Facebook. Don’t I have anything more interesting to write about?

Oh, Mark Zuckerberg. You and your big ideas.



  • I have found many benefits of Facebook, but also great costs, many of which you point out well. I have often thought about opting out, but if I do so and find out that the benefits are greater than the costs, what a pain in the tuckus to try to rebuild a profile. I’ve found myself wishing there were a “suspend” function. Yes, I guess I could just stop posting… if only it were that easy πŸ™‚

    • Right. It’s not really Zuckerberg’s fault that I can’t stop checking… And I’ve thought about “refining” my friend list – but the whole “unfriending” thing feels so awkward.

      • Hi Lee, I am Babs’ friend in Burnsville, MN. Babs sends me your blog updates, I really enjoy them!! I am looking for work and the group I work with to help with my job search suggested that I opt out of Facebook while I am job searching. I tell you, I have not missed it a bit, but then I am the babyboomer generation that may be why.

        • Hi, Cathy! That’s interesting – I think I would miss some things about it, but in general, I’m not sure. But it would feel like I was missing out on something, I think. Good luck with the job search!

  • Lee, it’s not awkward to “unfriend” someone unless you also stop being friends with them in real life. And if you’re not real-life friends with them anyway, you can’t worry about hurting their feelings! Right?

    I only have real-life friends, so I wouldn’t know.

  • I love you, Lee, but you sound like an old person when you get going about Facebook. πŸ™‚ Yes, there are some awkward things about FB but I hate when people talk it about it as an either/or situation. I can either talk to real people or sit alone in a room and “talk” to people on FB. I have found that it enhances my real life relationships. I have things to ask people about when I see them in person. I am not the only one who never heard that so and so is moving or got a new job. So then I can be sure and send them an email or a card to talk about it. I have also found it is great for getting info such as what is the best baby chair or who did you use to print your Christmas cards. I have a little community of people who are all going through the first year with their first child. And it is fun to ask them questions or give little hints of things I figured out.

    And I think that you are right that regardless of what you decide to do with FB personally, you need to consider its utility to your congregation. I think that it can be a powerful tool for good and not just time wasting.

    What I really want to know is don’t you love my posts? Patrick says my status updates could use some work.

    • Hi, Brenda – I’m pretty sure I sound like an old person when I get going on a lot of things.
      You’re right – I know it can be a really good thing sometimes, and I’ve found that to be true, too. I mostly listed downsides, but I do really like connecting with people who are far away. Maybe, instead of opting out, I should decide to really embrace the whole thing, rather than just doing it halfway and being crabby about it.

      I do love your posts, I’ll admit. Especially the ones where you and Patrick comment to each other. And the Colin video you posted was lovely.

      • i was thinking about this more. and as much as i can complain about FB, here are things that happened this year that would not have in a pre-FB world.
        -I had breakfast with a college friend who I have not seen in 10 years in Kansas City. She was camped there for work and we were headed there for a weekend get-away. It was fantastic to reconnect.
        -I burned a copy of my high school jazz band cd for the wife of the bass player who wants to surprise him with it for christmas. he has been nostalgic about this lately and does not have access to a cd. Now I can make his Christmas wish come true. πŸ™‚
        -When I was struggling with breastfeeding, I went to a local breastfeeding group but what truly helped me was connecting with a old college friend who was going through the same things at the same time.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *