This response was written to a blog post on the ELCA women site. Original post Don’t Find Me Facebook by Emily Hansen on Jan 7th 2010:
I must respectfully disagree – what you describe is not the experience that I have had since I joined fb on my b-day this past year. I try to challenge myself every year to try something new, and this past year it was fb. I am so glad I did!
I am single, live in a big city and travel for work. I have found fb to be a great way for me to keep up with friends during the work week. (BTW – I don’t do fb at work. Work is for work.) I am friends mostly with my family, folks from my church, and other friends local and remote. I don’t ‘friend’ people I don’t know and my friends are the same way – so what we post is only being seen by those we select to see it. In addition, you can send a private message directly to a specific person or group of people.
Below are some positive benefits (partial list!):
1) I am once again connected with some friends who moved and am able to interact with them more easily using this medium. I find that when we get together, I feel closer to them b/c while I may not have seen them for a while, we have been keeping up with each other in the interim.
2) I am friends w/my sister-in-law & nieces on fb. I like keeping up with them on more of the small stuff of life. We only see each other 2 times a year, and I had always regretted that I wasn’t more in tune with their daily lives. When my niece graduated this past May, they put a few pics up w/in a couple of hours! It meant so much to me to feel more connected to the celebration in real time.
3) My son is on staff at a church and has informed the church office of 2 deaths in church members families b/c he is connected to the families via fb.
4) I lead a small group and have set up a group w/in fb so that I can send messages that go only amongst the group. We can continue our discussion with each other throughout the week by posting comments on our studies. We are able to continue to function as a small group throughout the week!
5) I have seen an outpouring of love to people who have lost loved ones on fb.
I believe that fb provides a unique way to be community. As Christians, when we participate, then it becomes Christian community. As the church, I think that we need to be open to the fact that our society is no longer one in which all communication happens homogeneously. No, we live in an age where the means of communication are myriad. As the church, I believe we honor others when, instead to telling them how we will communicate with them, we ask them how they prefer to be communicated with and then communicate with them in their preferred manner. For some this will be via traditional methods: phone calls, newletters and the like. For many others it will be via text message, Facebook or Twitter. This is certainly an exciting time!
Emily why don’t you at least try Facebook and then write another post based on your actual experience? I think you might be pleasantly surprised.