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.