So…I’ve been compelled for a while now to say my two cents about Facebook. I refuse to do it on Facebook, however, because I just don’t want to be one of ‘those people’. The very people who compel me to write this post.
What do I mean by ‘those people’? The best way I can put it is this. I see Facebook as something like a giant block party. Block parties are where everyone gets together to interact, to fellowship, to learn more about new people, and to catch up with old friends. Block parties should be fun, and each person can be as social or as reserved as he or she feels comfortable. But we all know that at every block party, there’s ‘that guy’. Or ‘that girl’. He or she corners everyone at the party to show you 9,000 pictures of her cat. Or tell you, in detail, about every bowel movement her new baby has had. ‘That guy’ constantly sits in a corner playing loud, weird songs on his iPod or ignores everyone and writes in a notebook, simultaneously saying ‘ignore me’ and ‘pay attention to me’. ‘That girl’ bemoans her tragic, angst-filled life at the condiment table, although you hardly know her and all you want is some ketchup. And, finally, ‘those people’ hijack every conversation so they can rant about their political viewpoint or the cause they are promoting. And it usually starts with ‘the reason [everyone else’s viewpoint but mine] is wrong is because…’
At a block party, no one wants to hang out with ‘those people’. Yet, for some reason, on Facebook, we’ve all become very comfortable being ‘those people’. We share way too much information with people we barely know, we post pictures of ourselves, and others, that we would have hidden in our underwear drawer in the age of printed photographs, and we prosletize with wild abandon in a way we wouldn’t dare if face to face with someone. We’ve lost our filter somewhere along the way. There is a lot of discussion right now about teenagers and the dangers of revealing too much online, but I think it’s really a problem across every age group. We’ve somehow come to believe that 492 people want to see and know every detail of our lives, and that the best way to get our point across is to be obnoxious.
I think, when we come to Facebook, we should ‘come to the block party’. Bring a few photos of your family so we can see how the kids are growing. Even a pet photo or two is good fun. Tell us about your interests, your beliefs, even your prayer requests, but run it all through a filter first. Ask yourself…would I shout this out loud to a group of people at the block party? If the answer is no, then don’t post it. I have had to use the filter on myself many times. In fact, it’s part of the reason I decided to start a blog. Blogs are the place for all those cat pictures and political venting. Blogs are optional. It’s like meeting someone at the block party and saying, ‘Hey, I think such-and-such. If you want to talk further, here’s a time and place’.
But please, oh please, don’t post paragraphs and paragraphs about…anything. Bodily functions should not be talked about or photographed. Ever. It’s not even cute if a kid did it. Put all the photos of Fluffy wearing clothes in one album so those who want to check that out can click once and see them all. Same with babies. And I have a baby. Look hard at your profile picture. Really look at it, because that’s my first impression of you. And if your profile picture is of a kitten in a meadow and your name is Happy Kitty, a lot of people might have no clue who you are. Don’t be grotesquely sexual. Not because I’m a Christian or because your boss might see it. It’s just gross. Don’t type a sad story about a puppy and ask me to repost it. Seeing the words ‘please re-post this’ makes me feel like it’s 1998 and I’m checking my AOL mail account. Finally, don’t use the ‘de-friending’ option as a weapon. Saying, ‘gotta go thru my friends list and some of you aren’t gonna make it’ is just mean.
Having said all of that, understand that this is tongue-in-cheek and not born out of any real anger. I also realize that each and every one of us, including myself, has the potential to be ‘that person’. I may very likely have broken one of my own ‘rules’. So when we come to the ‘block party’, we’ve got to hold ourselves accountable, and give each other a break. If we ‘mis-post’, we should delete it. If someone goes on an unecessary rant, we should forgive. We should monitor our young ones, and help them, with kindness, to post appropriately.
So, welcome to the block party. Come as you are. Let us know about you. Post a quote or a verse that demonstrates your beliefs. Be yourself, responsibly. As for me, I am Cat, or Karen. I am a Christian and I will never hide that. I am a dancer and a writer and a mom. I have some cute pictures of my kids, and even my cats, and I don’t always have it all together. I sometimes need prayer or to vent breifly about why time begins to stand still any time I’m left in a doctor’s exam room with my children. And that’s about all Facebook gets from me. If you want to hear more, keep reading my blog. Or, and this is a wild idea, we could talk face to face. At a real block party.
Finally, a verse I believe applies to the written word as well as what we speak, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18