Monday, November 29, 2010

Leaving FaceBook?

This morning I just finished reading a blog post that one of my FaceBook friends posted on why they were leaving FaceBook. I often question if the time I take for FB every day is time well spent and thought maybe this would provide me with some more reason to leave a world that at my age is not in my comfort zone much of the time. As I read the article it struck me that the very reason they were leaving were the reason I feel compelled to stay.

The truth is that I never wanted a MySpace page or a FaceBook account that would become one more thing I had to do each day or monitor. Several years ago one the youth in my church ask about having a MySpace page for the youth group and since I knew nothing about this media I thought I should at least check it out and see if it had any value. I went out and created a personal account and then began to connect to the other people that I found had pages as well. With those from different generations, especially the younger ones, I started to see the world in a new light. It began to open my eyes to how they connected and how thin many of those connections were. I began to realize that I had lost touch with what was happening in the world outside the church and I started to become very aware of why my church was not connecting to those outside the church building. I sure didn't like much of what I was reading but it did make me think, and for me that is always a good thing.

I started with a MySpace account and when FaceBook became popular I opened one of those accounts too. I have found FaceBook far more valuable today than the several other networking sites I am also on. I have just under a thousand "friends" on FaceBook. The interesting thing to me is that when I look through the list there are only a few, less than 20, that I couldn't tell you how I know them and where we made our first connection. Not that I am under any illusion that they are close friends or in some cases more than an acquaintance that I made somewhere in my life. Some are professional connections or people I have met through others.

This morning's blog had me asking if I was on FaceBook for me or for those that are my "friends." As I thought about it I have eliminated many of the things that I find as simply distractions for why I joined in the first place, the games, the applications that are for fun and all the question or survey stuff. I simply block all those apps as soon as they appear on my screen and I don't even have to see them anymore. All that I have left for the most part is the posting written by my friends or links that they find interesting. I also ignore any link that doesn't tell me why I should look at it in a personal note from that person since I have found that helps me stay away from virus type problems.

There have been two times that I have been encouraged to continue using FaceBook even though I often wonder if anyone is paying attention to the stuff I post. First, last year at the churches Annual Conference, a gathering of pastors and lay people from our more than 850 churches in Western PA, many people came up and told me that they made decisions on what to read based on my book reviews that I usually post and several mentioned appreciating the links and articles that I pass on from my friends. The second event was my class reunion this past weekend. Several people came up to me and told me that while we were not close in high school they really enjoyed reading my posts to FaceBook and the information that I passed on. Each of them mentioned that they had never commented or said anything on FB but that they wanted me to know that I had touched their life in some way.

I have spent my life trying to help others connect to one another in ways that will help them grow in many ways, their faith, their profession, their family or their joy. I have found FaceBook to be an excellent way to help others in that way and so I will be staying on FaceBook until there is a better way to touch the lives of my friends in an interesting way.

1 comment:

paul morelli said...

Like you I have made connections on facebook with "friends" outside the church (let's face it, after a while as a Christian, it is easy to only have church friends unless you make a concerted effort) and I try to post culturally relevant sayings or scripture (especially from NLT or Message that may reach or help those not attending a fellowship. I started to intersperse these with cute comments in order to attract others who may dismiss my direct approach. My wife does not appreciate my time on facebook and like you, I wondered if it was for me more than outreach. I find that it satisfies personality needs people and my job does not allow for that anymore (thus I am retiring)but several times I have received private messages from "friends" who I mainly only connect with on facebook who have said the "look forward" to the postings...this was motivation to continue also, same as you...I also do not play the games, etc. As an evangelist, I am constantly seeking ways to reach outside the building and in todays culture, the electronic media is "where it's at"...and like you, for now, I will continue until I find a better way to spend time reaching others....I also have enjoyed your book reviews and suggestions and your blog is interesting...I like your challenging questions, even though I usually don't post back to them. Thanks for your "out of the box" mentality, your mentoring attitude (you mentor me even if you don't know it) and your heart to reach people....IHS...paul