Thursday, July 24, 2008

Friends Face to Face

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.

9 comments:

Meg said...

Dear Belinda -

Thank you for the insightful commentary on Facebook. As someone who got on to it with my daughter's help, and doesn't really keep up with it much, or those of others, I value your comments. This reminds me of the dialogue I talked about in my comment on the post I wrote, and is helpful to me at this moment with some things going on in my life, where I really have to rely on the friend who sticks closer than a brother!

Dave Hingsburger said...

BP, you always lead where my faint heart dares not go. I cheered you post about staying away from that internet quagmire. Maybe over tea, soon, you can help me understand this phenomenon a little more. I'm a bit tired of 'oh, you don't facebook?" ... Sometimes I barely 'face'!

Belinda said...

My Dear Friend Dave,
I can't wait for tea. You name the time and place--I will be there with my usual array of bells! :)

I remember we were so on the same page about FB. By the time I "join the crowd" on anything, the crowd has usually scattered, but that's ok, I get there eventually--and probably start a whole new wave.

Belinda said...

Dear Meg,
I'm glad you enjoyed the FB commentary. I worried a bit that it might seem like a shallow, silly post, but I went with my heart and I think that God laughs with us at our silliness sometimes! Anyway, as I think that in a different way, you are fighting the battle to be "just you;" we all need to; and not be afraid or ashamed of it--and this is "just me" who am sometimes just about things like Facebook! :)

Susan said...

You didn't mention how FaceBook (FaceCrack, as some call it), helps you to compare yourself to others! You can check how many friends you have against how many friends everyone else has and then either feel really, really good about yourself, or feel horrible. It's great! :o) When Dave gets on FaceBook, I have a strong suspicion that we'll ALL have the opportunity to feel horrible! :o)

(I'm still glad you're joining Dave, and may I be the first to ask? Will you be my friend????)

Angcat said...

Ok I'm a dinosaur. Thanks Dave for being another non Face Booker. I've had invitations to be a friend, but have resisted.
Why?.....
-I don't have time
-I don't want to
-I want to talk to my friends face to face, or at least hear their voice on the phone, or even get a personal email in my inbox...

I think it's mostly a time thing, but I know Belinda that you will be a blessing wherever you end up.

It's an interesting journey. Some plunge in at the first new land of adventure that presents itself and some hold out to the bitter end, not that it's bitter, just a form of resistance to the gradual eroding of the quiet that so evades in this world of demands on life.

So enjoy Belinda. Your invitation to Frank was in our inbox this morning. I'll pass it on and I know what he'll say, 'cause I'd say the same thing if I was in the loop.

:-)

Belinda said...

Dear Ang,
I'm laughing at your comment because I so understand and agree with all of your good reasons for not joining! Hold the line for both of us dear friend, it may be too late for me to resist the Borg but it's not too late for you! :)

Dave Hingsburger said...

Oh no, I've seemed to mislead. I just want to hear about it to understand it. I can't imagine becoming a facebooker ... but Susan, dear, you already are my friend.

Susan said...

Hah, Dave! That's EXACTLY what Jesus said!