Does Face Book Make Us More Friendly?

I was made to be sucked in by Face Book.  In college, I was the one who made excuses to go to the student mailboxes to see if I had any “campus mail,” even if I had checked less than an hour before.  My husband and I got e-mail at home in 1993, and even then, when there were so few people who had e-mail, I had to check it every time I walked by the computer.  I blogged before everyone had a blog, and I have always had to check the comments at every opportunity, too.  A bit OCD?  Perhaps.

So, along comes Face Book.  For a long time, I resisted the nudge to join.  I thought my blog was enough for me.  Finally, about 6 months ago, I jumped on the FB bandwagon.  Now, I can’t get on my computer without checking my FB account.  After the initial newness wore off, I quit using all the extra applications, and that cuts the FB time way down, but I still waste way too much time there.  Why is it so important for me to know what the an acquaintance from 20 years ago had for breakfast this morning?  Why do I care what my former co-worker’s kids look like?  Is it just curiosity or is it genuine interest?  Are there any elements of Face Book that are more than cursory glances into the lives of others, or is it one giant land of small talk?

The world of Face Book is just like the real world–you have acquaintances with whom you make small talk, and even enjoy a joke with.  And, you have real friends with whom you send personal messages–sometimes private ones using the facebook e-mail application.

Face Book feels like a phenomenon that will wear off eventually, but in the mean time, is it making us more friendly, or is it making us more self-absorbed?  Is it an ongoing Christmas letter in which nothing bad ever happens, or is it more real with people showing at least a few of their warts?  How many warts do any of us really want to see anyway?  What is the right balance of reality and PR one should use on FB?

This is just me thinking out loud.  Until I have the answers, you can befriend me on Face Book.  I’ll be changing my status every day and checking my newsfeed every chance I get!

3 thoughts on “Does Face Book Make Us More Friendly?”

  1. Good thoughts, Jennifer. I’d say that Facebook, like any other tool, can be used and misued (of course, I know you already know that). Let’s substitute drinking wine for Facebooking….can’t wine-drinking lead to drunkenness? Sure. Aren’t there people who drink it more for the buzz it gives them than for the social enjoyment–or even for the enjoyment of the taste–in effect, “using” wine selfishly? Sure. Are there some who can handle wine-drinking better than others? Sure. Are there some, perhaps those who have struggled with self-control in this area, who mayb be better off sticking with Dr. Pepper? Sure. So it is with e-mail, blogging, blog-reading, Facebooking, shopping, money-making, running for political office, whatever.

    As for your question as to why we should care what an old junior high school chum ate for breakfast…it’s possible there’s an element of mild voyeurism. It could also have to do with the fact that, as beings made in God’s image, we are naturally fascinated with the stories and lives of our fellow image-bearers–with the incredible variety of personalities and circumstances. As a matter of fact, unless you only use Facebook to update your own info and never look at any one else’s, it may be less inherently “selfish” than, say, blogging.

    Still, apart from the question about the nature of Facebook in particular is the issue of computer time in general. It’s all too easy to spend too much time online, so, as you have done in this post, it’s helpful from time to time to step back and consider the big picture of whether we are being good stewards of our days. It could be that we should be spending less time with Mr. Computer and more time with our non-virtual neighbor.

    Now it’s time for me to go update my Facebook status….”Angie is commenting on Jennifer’s blog post.” (just kidding)

  2. well, you know me, i’m all about warts. also, i refuse to ever join facebook. and you have given me some more good reasons for this 🙂 of course, i begrudge no one else their own facebook fascination, but i just don’t want to get into it. i definitely feel i am missing out sometimes, but then i think it probably really is extremely superficial, and i am only missing out on the equivalent of an ongoing ice water tea. if someone really wants a meaningful conversation with me, they can call or send an email. if they merely want to know what ever happened to me, they can google me and read my blog.

    i read a funny blog post a while back about how facebook is like high school popularity all over again- how many friends you have, how many people have signed your wall- not sure if i am getting this exactly right since i have never done it, but it was a funny post. after reading that, i pretty much decided that i am entirely too self conscious for facebook.

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