There is a great deal of debate about this right now. I tend to fall in the "good" camp (anyone who knows me on Facebook can attest to my addiction).
- This is not deep friendship
- It is wasting your time
- It is selfish and self-centered
- What are you actually accomplishing?
- Is there any personal growth that can come from this?
- Is it dangerous for our kids?
Here's my take:
- It IS deep friendship and here's why: I'm a stay-at-home mom which means that the last time I finished a sentence without being interrupted (outside of nap time) was almost three years ago. Being able to dictate when and how I finish my thought is a powerful tool for me. This relates to e-mail, too. The second I pick up the phone she's onto me. But I can jot down a quick thought to a friend on her page and be done with it in 10 seconds. Which one makes a better friend? The one who actually reaches out in a filtered environment without having to wipe bottoms in the background of the conversation.
- It is NOT wasting my time. I have a home business, am in leadership at our MOPS group and am co-leading a Bible Study of 20 women. I also have family and friends scattered to the far winds. What better way to keep track of everyone, all in one place! Granted, not all those friendships will be deep ones, but that's why there are FILTERS, PEOPLE! Use your settings. I'm even in a book group that meets on Facebook.
- It is a little self-centered, but people are inherently self-focused. It's a survival mechanism. You don't have to be my "friend" if you don't want to. If you DO want to know what's going on in my life or what I've been thinking about, all you have to do is hop on my Facebook, follow the links to our blogs or website or just send me a quick note. I post a lot of pics because so many of our peeps are out of town and we're too broke to send real pictures. Also- it makes me happy to see them. Some of the content is truly obnoxious, but I've just reconnected with some old friends and they might want a quick synopsis of my life in top-ten form. It's a good way to fill in the gaps of years that have been lost. Which is why the article, Facebook is For Old Fogies is so funny to me. And right on.
- I am accomplishing something important. Moms are inherently lonely and prone to depression (not this one, anymore- praise God). We need a place to connect so we don't feel isolated. It's great to get out once or twice a month for a play-date, but that's not really enough time to fuel a deep friendship. Facebook (and other social networking sites) allow you to fill in the time gaps between conversations. You can skip over all the "what did you do for Christmas?" and "what is your husband's name, again?" because you read all that on Facebook.
- There are many other great things about Facebook: you can share articles and ideas, network, promote yourself and your business, and, my personal favorite, hold yourself accountable. If you don't want pictures of yourself, drunk, to show up on Facebook, maybe you shouldn't be going out to the bars after work. Duh. Same reasoning with infidelity or anything else. How many nasty and awkward conversations have I avoided in real-life by recognizing blatant political differences on someone's Facebook page? I have a foot-in-mouth problem, and Facebook helps me think now, act later.
- The world is a dangerous place. The truth is that I'm terrified of my daughter reaching that age. I'll be one of those annoying parents who reads everything she writes to everyone, knows all her logins and always keeps the computer in the living room. But I'll also give her some chances to build trust with me and to make good decisions for herself. I don't think it's responsible for people to let their 12 year-old kids cruise unchaperoned ANYWHERE, let alone online. Facebook is not the most dangerous place kids could be- you can help set their privacy settings, control who sees their content and whose content they see, etc. It's more structured than a lot of places online, including many chatrooms in seemingly innocent places.
Final thoughts: It's fun. It's free. It's better than MySpace (which I never joined because it always felt a little creepy to me). I really do cruise through my friends and check in on them now and then. I'm not constantly reading everyone's pages, but sometimes (because God is cool like this) someone will come to mind. I hop on their page, check in, pray for them and move on. I'm a much better friend with Facebook than I could ever be on my own. My best friendships exist outside of cyberspace. But I still check in on them on Facebook.