Why I resist Facebook…but oh, it’s so tempting!

May 25, 2007

Facebook is wild.

I just connected with an old friend on Facebook, and we’re meeting up for coffee. Good times.

So I’ve heard, this ‘re-connecting via Facebook’ is very common these days, it’s almost “the way things are.” I pity the poor soul who still has no internet (but wait, isn’t that half the world? or more?)

So many friend are on it, I feel left out of conversations my circle of friends are having online. When they chat about things, I’m not…well, connected. It’s an awkward thing, this feeling. Unless I relent, I’ll be left out. Unless I login, I don’t plug in. Odd.

I resist because I don’t want relationships that are built online. But, I recognize that’s what’s happening right now. But I don’t like it. I don’t think it’s helpful. I don’t think it’s, ultimately, real.

Not to say, Facebook isn’t useful. I enjoy connecting with old friends. But I resist nurturing and re-building these friendships only or primarily via Facebook or other online ways.

What do you think?

Here’s a great article by Laura Mitchel:

Facebook can’t measure up with face-to-face.

LAURA MITCHELL, Cambridge
(May 24, 2007)

The Internet chat site known as Facebook has quickly become the telephone of the 21st century.

The quality of these programs is incomparable with versions of only a few years past. It’s an electronic web connecting seemingly un-connectable people. Long lost friends and partial acquaintances are suddenly reunited. Thank the Internet for that one.

What would you ever do now without these treasured new friends? The trace left when navigating through Facebook alone is something almost comical to watch.

“Bobby has looked at Sally’s profile.”

“Sally has commented on Donna’s pictures.”

“Donna has added Bobby as a friend.”

I can admit that I have always been somewhat skeptical about the overall appropriate nature of Internet chatting as a major way of communication. Not to say that I do not indulge in e-mails as an affordable and convenient way to keep in touch. Nor do I frown away from the former chat sites MSN or ICQ, as means to chat quickly. My skepticism kicks in when the Internet becomes the only means in which two people communicate – not to mention the source of a re-connection or initial contact.

The lack of intimacy via instant typed messages, paired with tremendous amounts of miscommunication, don’t add up to lasting friendships.

A solid friendship is based on knowledge, trust and familiarity. Typing to a person you knew six years ago, who you happen to see on a friend-of-a-friend’s, friend list, and with whom you had no prior desire to reconnect, does not come close to the sort of friendship you can acquire through dedication, and sharing of lives – leaving the house and computer behind.

I may be considered old-fashioned, but I believe that attempting to create a relationship through the Internet is a sure way of creating a fantasy that will never come true, not to mention creating delusions that may take time to work off.

The method, means and locations of meeting a love interest are countless; most happen by chance, many find you in a natural setting doing things common in your life – drinking a coffee or searching for a movie in a video store.

Connecting with people through the Internet does not give you the natural affect that a chance encounter would. Pictures pasted on one’s profile are carefully selected and approved for mass audience, posted comments are thought out, and one-on-one conversations are not as quick-witted as they may seem.

One’s overall web-based appearance, including font type and color, pictures and list of friends all becomes a strange mix between a popularity contest and a personal ad. It’s strange to find so many people dependent on these websites for entertainment and connection.

My advice is to shed the fear, turn off the computer, and embrace the excitement of a face-to-face conversation. You may have forgotten how much fun that can be.

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7 Responses to “Why I resist Facebook…but oh, it’s so tempting!”

  1. Tree said

    I think the author made a good point with “when the Internet becomes the only means in which two people communicate.” Facebook can be a starting point in which we can contact others or even rekindle old friendships, but it shouldn’t end there. Jason, you’ve done what I think people should do: use Facebook to connect with friends TO meet face-to-face. It depends on the individual to make the effort to reach beyond the keyboard and touch a real person to make real connections.

  2. Yvonne said

    How silly, Facebook never tells you when someone has looked at someone else’s profile. Her article is discounted just on that basis alone. 😀 I see her point, but I don’t particularly agree, in that people are busy and Facebook can be a good way to keep up, similar to MSN, which she doesn’t completely reject. Plus, there are many out of town Facebookers – it’d be nice to meet face to face, but pretty darn difficult at the same time.

    Like you once said, sometimes people are more willing to open up online than they are in real life. Maybe that’s “wrong”, but I believe in meeting people where they are and THEN trying to draw them out 🙂

  3. Jason said

    Thanks for the thoughts Tree and Yvonne!

    Yvonne: I did say that didn’t I (“sometimes people are more willing to open up online than they are in real life.”) And when I did say it, I suppose I conceded that “that’s just the way it is now.” But I still feel uncomfortable with the idea. It’s the truth, the medium of the day is the internet. My only objection (not so much that it’s wrong), is when Facebook and any technological device replaces human to human contact. I’m just feel that

    Another issue that comes up is the number of friends one can realistically “keep up with.” I don’t keep in touch very well, partly I think, because I know too many people (I’m not boasting! I’m just saying…). I heard once that every person can only relate–seriously have a friendship-relationship–with “x” number of people (it may vary from person to person). I think this is true, at least for me. There are just so many people I am capable of caring for, remembering, loving. I’d, for sure, love to love everyone I know (and in a way Christ does call me to), but to have a relationship that can grow and be intentionally and mutually nurturing…there’s only so many I can handle. That my sound unfortunate, but I think it’s more realistic. I think, that’s part of the philosophy behind small groups in churches.

    I don’t think, as with almost all things, that a personal “ban” will help (I still use Facebook!–connected with a friend who is now in NY!). I do like the idea more of Christ Transforming Culture, rather than Christ Against Culture (although, there are times this is necessary, too). And, I agree Yvonne, with some friends in our circles, and in some situations, using whatever means to draw them out is a good thing. I suppose it’s about using discernment: when to use it, and how much to use it…

  4. pj said

    Hmmm, your title is somewhat misleading …

    I’ve heard of the Facebook phenom and although I am curious what the girls I used to have crushes on are up to … I am resisting it, just like I resisted any form of instant messenging. Two reasons: time waster, and (as you alluded to, J) I have a hard enough time maintaining any kind of quality in my present number of friendships/relationships. J, wait till you get married and have little ones running around.

    There are some aspects of culture that should be transformed by Christ but there are times in which renunciation is the way to go. You can’t constantly transform email, icq, blogging, Facebook, etc. Because in the attempt to transform them, you subtlely become part of that culture. It is a fine line. We humans have a tendency to create something, this something then takes on a life of its own and start making demands on those who use it. Soon, you will have to log onto Facebook to check, as well as your email, your blogsite, sports, news, etc. Marva Dawn called this principalities and powers. At some point, we have to say enough is enough.

    So, no curious leafing through pages of people, their current place of employment, place where they live, who they are with, if they are single, married, or divorced … I should give more energetic attention to those who are around me.

  5. Daniele said

    I think Facebook is somewhere between a free psychoanalytical therapy service and a shot of vanity boosting our ego:)beside now you can get a free burger a burger king if you drop 10 friends from it:)

    I wrote something along those lines on my blog and I found interesting your post:)
    Daniele
    http://www.smile76.wordpress.com

  6. Amy said

    The kids and I talked a lot at dinner about Facebook. I wanted to find something on the internet about the movement that is resisting the electronic relationship business. Let’s remember, Facebook has ads. I am not sure about Twitter.

    I am relieved to find that there are some people out there who see the superficiality in Facebook and the competitiveness in trying to boost your “friendship” numbers.

    Tonight, the kids and I talked a lot about what makes true friendship. We remembered the fact that the Buddha says it is better to have no friends or few friends than one who brings you down the wrong path. We talked about quantum entanglement and the research that is showing that people who know each other intimately – family members usually, and close friends, people who have lived and breathed together – can affect the brainwaves of one another when they send them positive messages even when they are not physically together. (NPR, May 21, 2009)

    We discussed the narcissism of Facebook. And also the fact it wastes so much time when you could be outside in the natural world which we have evolved to live in over tens of thousands of years, not in front of the computer, or you could be gathered together with your friends or friend seeing them laugh, hearing them talk, feeling their presence, rather than obsessing about oneself and the virtual friends you may or may not have.

    My daughter has a quote on her email which she reads only a few times a week: “Lots of people will want to ride with you on the limo. But what you want is somebody who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” Oprah Winfrey (who probably has a Facebook, but it’s a great quote!)

    Thank you for starting this discussion. I am now going to log off and fold laundry.

  7. Kosho said

    The problem I have with facebook and other “social networking” websites is that they are first and foremost a business and they must somehow create a revenue stream from your participation in them. The facebook people have already gotten into trouble with their Beacon application that tracks and broadcasts user’s online purchases. You can bet every click and every character you type is being analyzed for future monetization by this company. The owners and investors in this company first and foremost have dollar signs in their eyes and they have to do this because that’s their business. But I don’t care to have what I call “friendship” hosted in this sort of environment. If they want to be the next google, fine. But there is no reason why a network of friends needs to be supports by banner ads and micro-payments.

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