The World of Facebook …
…. And other social not-working sites leave many of us more socially retarded than we were in high school …
Returning to Canada and running into "Facebook friends" of mine has really puzzled, humored – and in some cases annoyed me – enough that I think writing this article is worth my time.
Does anyone else have the following contacts on Facebook?
- The brother or sister who is apparently too afraid to talk to you in person, but is chatty on your wall and private messages as if you've been through hell and high water together?
- Or what about Joe "I went to high school / elementary school with you, but do not answer anything you write me-even though I'm the one who sent you the friend request in the first place?"
- Or the friend you know "from somewhere", and have not been in touch with for years and years, and you have an initial "entry level communication" with? What I mean by that is, say that you found this person, and added them, and once they accepted your invite, you wrote on their wall or sent them a private message that showed up in their inbox, they responded, and had a follow up question of their own about your life and what is new with them. You respond to this and ask them one or two more details about their life, and the communication ends there with a total of three interactions– entry-level communication, but you remain "Facebook friends", and no doubt keep spying on each other's sites to know the latest news and developments, but otherwise have no real communication whatsoever.
Now, I'm not popular, and never have been – don't get me wrong. I have never been known to have lots of friends in social settings, but this Facebook thing, well everybody seems to be on it! I have almost 700 contacts on it, and yes, I am at the very minimum at least acquainted with all of them – but still accept ones I do not recognize hoping THEY will indicate how we know each other. And I have a handful of fictional characters from TV shows like The Simpsons. I accept any and every invitation I get, even if I do not recognize the person sending me the invite. Unless of course you're some hoochie mama and in your picture you're wearing almost clothes or I recognize your name from my seedy past of internet porn addiction, or I otherwise just simply know your name and pic is bad news and no real fruitful communication will come of it.
I've been on this thing for almost two years now, and I've noticed some peculiar things about human and social interaction from this website, that I realized telling my computer illiterate grandmother about it has helped me see just how ridiculously stupid the world of Facebook is (and of course, MySpace) if you really think about it and try describing to someone on the outside or who did not grow up with the Internet.
One of those ridiculous observations is in fact the very reason I joined it-how easy it is to stay moderately informed about the latest goings-on in the lives of people in my social network with very little effort involved on my part-or theirs. When I first joined Facebook, the privacy settings were such that everything people did on their page showed up in my mini-feed. This is the part of your page, where once you sign in, there's a list of the latest activity that has taken place on your friends' pages. I LOVED this feature, and have taken full use of it by constantly putting pictures and newsletters, and now audio mp3s of our podcast, onto this social network, to constantly make people reminded of me. That's simply it. I still do not know the balance of how often is too often and becomes annoying, but this website is one of the most brilliant things people have invented for the internet and gotten me "in touch" with way more individuals than I could have on my own effort.
However, many people who joined the site were up in arms that they had so "little privacy" by having all the latest developments show up in their friends' mini-feeds (basically the home page after signing into the site). This is the part that has puzzled me completely: why did people join such a site if they felt that what happens on it is an invasion of privacy? And if they do not want certain people to know their latest updates, then why did they add them as friends on their network? If you do not want someone to see your page, there's boxes you check in your account information.
Myself, I have almost everything checked, and the more people on my account the merrier. I have forged for myself a career path that is public, and my life – generally speaking – is an open book, so the more I can put myself on peoples' minds for prayer and knowledge of my missionary life, the better it is for my interests of keeping people informed – especially those who WANT to be. Most or at least many churches in North America give little time and interest to the Great Commission as it is (other than outreach to the local community-which many churches excel at, in my opinion – but the sending out of missionaries … ..?), so missionaries like myself have to keep making sure they come to your attention as much as the local "change the color of the sanctuary carpet" fund. Pictures can say a thousand words, so I put almost all of them on Facebook and you can SEE what I'm doing.
Needless to say, I love Facebook! But probably for different reasons than most who use it.
But allow me to put my emphasis on the word touch in the "keeping in touch" that Facebook allows. You barely have any real interaction with each other on this site. I've known about peoples' marriage and dating developments from their "relationship status" changing and showing up in my mini feed. I've known other people who've found out their girlfriends were dumping them by changing their relationship status on Facebook!
Probably none of you reading this will go out of the way to leave a comment about what you agree or disagree with, since on Facebook most people just lurk and 'face stalk', but you will have read this anyway. This is typical of the online community our generation is becoming – don't you think?