On May 20th 2007, I wrote a blog post entitled, Facebook Holdout, all about my resistance to the social networking phenomenon sweeping the nation at the time.
I said that I was not joining; no way Jose! I was not going to jump on this bandwagon, for various well thought out reasons. I already had sufficient internet addictions and besides, I am a bit of a Luddite. I'm a few years behind most others when it comes to technology and gadgets. If not for Paul I would not even have a dishwasher or microwave.
It was about two weeks ago that my friend Johanne asked me to join Facebook as part of a group of writers for her newspaper, and, only to oblige her, I did. For the first day or so I added the bare minimum of information and then I began to check out the potential “friends” already on Facebook. At 58 I found myself asking people if they would be my friends and waiting, with bated breath, for them to confirm if they would. Oh, the mortification of rejection!
I began to get “friend invitations.” One or two I didn’t immediately know. What to do? Become friends with a stranger? It was strangely tempting. On closer examination I realized that I did know them; distantly, but I knew them. Of course I would be their friend.
All of this reminded me of the Victorian novels I read as a child, where to be acknowledged, or “known,” meant something socially, depending on who was doing the “knowing.” The dreaded snub, or, as it was often put, the “cut,” was social disaster and a way of delivering a cruel blow to the victim.
Peter said that Paul did not confirm him as a friend, and he had to say to him, “Come on, you are my dad, you have to say you know me,” or something to that effect.
On Facebook people can write their “Status,” which doesn’t tell you if they are dead or alive; or a prince or duke, but simply what they are doing at the exact moment of writing.
Brenda’s Facebook status recently announced that she was, “ruthlessly editing her friends list.” Friends actually heaved sighs of relief at surviving the “cut.” Can you imagine? "Edited out" of a friends list? Ouch!
“Well, it had to be done,” said Brenda, pragmatically. Apparently she was tired of talking to non-friends, whom she had accepted as friends. Go figure!
I am surprised at how much fun I’ve had with Facebook . I have discovered things about people I go to church with and the young people in my life, that I may never have known. My godson, Jacob, is actually “Jake,” on his Facebook page. Who knew? I didn't, and neither did Frances, his mom! Now that I know, I will honour his preference.
Facebook has helped me see the young people I know, as real people, more fully rounded, with joys and sorrows that they actually write about. I can find out what they care about and enjoy. In person most young people tend to say so little, especially to older folks.
I enjoy looking at other people’s photos on their sites. It was cool seeing my friend Rodney’s photos of his trip to Germany last year. I know Rodney from church and would never have seen those normally but it showed me another dimension of his life.
I can see that there is a vortex to fall into and it would be so easy to get lost in Facebook-land. But I look upon it as getting to know people better, and hey, if people are communicating, that has to be a good thing.
Carole Elefant at Legal Blog Watch; quoted on Wise Law Blog, March 11, 2008, says that:
“44% of employers use social networking sites to examine the profiles of job candidates, and 39% have looked up the profile of a current employee."
That is a bit scary and I wonder how many people think about that possibility?
Still, two weeks into FB (see, I know to call it FB), I found myself at a table today with a group of coworkers, announcing, “Hey, I’m on Facebook; are any of you? Do you want to be my According to the article, "friends?” A silent Facebooker gathers no friends after all.
Proverbs 18:24 (New King James Version)
24 A man who has friends must himself be friendly,
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.