Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Facing Facebook

As a lark, I signed up for Facebook. Now many want to be my "friends." I have fooled around with it a little bit. What have I gotten myself into? Please give me your philosophy of Face book, not just anecdotes. Thank you.


Brian said...

Pros: You can catch up with and keep track of many people that you used to be in contact with. Others can see what you're up to in a social way.

Cons: Can be a big time-waster. You might not want to know what people are doing. You might not want people know what you are doing.

My verdict: can be helpful if you use it right and don't get carried away micro-managing your profile and looking through other people's profiles.

Sam said...

The good: upon trying it out I have found it a very useful tool for building relationships.

One aspect I like is that it's a kind of passive communication tool. Whenever I attend an event organised on Facebook, for example, my friends are notified, allowing me to share my life with others, without needing to explicitly talk to every single one. And that works in reverse also: it allows me to see more of the happenings in my friends lifes (through uploaded pictures also, for example) and thus better informs me to care for and encourage them.

The bad: it drains time. And if you add all the junk applications that people send around you can easily fluff around without doing anything productive.

My 0.2c

Anonymous said...

Philosophy and anecdotes.
FB is a social networking tool - and it is fun to use that way.
It also is a means to share ideas and points of view with others (some good discussions during the recent election). I re-post some of my blog articles out here.
I use the "Causes" function to alert my Friends about abortion issues, Voice of the Martyrs, etc.
I also use FB for quick contact with friends who are serving in missions in Thailand, Hungary, Tennessee, etc. It is great for quick prayer requests.
I use FB to keep up with current friends and family - youth group and church members. I post some of my blog postings out there. I was able to share some philosophy with others regarding the recent election.
We were able to pray for a young family we did not know - but some friends of ours knew - in which the mother was suffering from a brain tumor. Hundreds of folks who did not know her personally were able to minister through prayer to her and her family.
I did reconnect with a High School buddy from 28 years ago - for whom I have occasionally prayed during that time - and found that he has been a brother in Christ for 26 of those years - very exciting.

Matt Redmond said...

1. It is a great way to keep in touch with people from all the different seasons of life: high school, youth group, college, single years, seminary and various churches I have served in.

2. I work with students and it is a microscope into their hearts to see what they love and value and how they approach the world around them.

3. It is great way to find out who in your life needs prayer. When my daughter was in the hospital we regularly updated her status and people all over the world from every season of our lives were praying for her.

4. it is a fun and creative way to communicate with friends.

Unknown said...

I tried it for a while, but gave it up. The crowd is younger, the applications are distracting, and the political tenor is decidedly more leftist, IMO.

Besides, I would rather pour energy and time into blogging, but that's just me.

Jeff Burton said...

If you are disciplined about limiting your "friends" to people you really want to keep in touch with, then it is a good tool to track them down when they move, change phone numbers, e-mail addresses, etc. The rest of it is a waste of time, as far as I'm concerned.

Kevin Winters said...

Facebook has reconnected me with a number of old friends, helps me stay in contact with friends that I;m too busy to to associate with on a regular basis, and is a good forum for setting up events and inviting people to them. But it is also true that you can waste a lot of time idling on Facebook with sending messages, adding applications, etc. There is also the possibility of people equating their self-worth with Facebook: on how many friends they have, how many messages they get per day, etc., to show that they are liked/loved.

As with anything, it can be good and can have some potential pitfalls. There are those who 'live' on Facebook and others who use it as a useful tool to keep in touch. I know I appreciate the status updates as it lets me know how people are doing, what they're up to, etc. (it can also be good for a good laugh), especially when it's been a few weeks or more since I last saw them (most of my friends are college students, so they are quite busy).

Just a few musings from the resident "postmodern" Facebook user. ;o)

bjh said...

Facebook is the great farce. It trades real relationships for online pseudo-relationships. It allows you to reconnect with people you may have not seen in years, but if you haven't seen them in years is it really worth reconnecting? Friendships should be allowed to go dormant, otherwise we'd never have time to go deep with anyone. Social networking has backfired. In the attempt to create community, websites have trained people to "connect" by posting photos and emailing each other. Younger kids will literally leave a public gathering and go home to look at each others' Facebooks. Myself, I'd rather grab a meal with a dear friend. And if I happen to run into someone from my past, it will be great to say hello and reminisce...and then wish them well.

adam said...

Dr. Groothuis, I finally signed up for a Blogger Identity so I could cease being merely a 'lurker.' Your Facebook question drew me out because I am teaching at a Christian high school where almost every student is engaged in the facebook world. I have thought about joining because it could
1. Help me connect with students out of the classroom.
2. Prompt some deeper discussions with give and take.
3. Be a good way to keep up with students after they graduate.

But, I have resisted this do to other issues.
1. The danger of wasting time that could be better used on something more productive.
2. The issue of seeing and learning things about students that I wish I didn't know.
3. Remembering your classes on the danger of creating a false identity in a virtual world.
4. Wondering if it would really provide any deep conversations or only promote joking.

I have no answers yet. It is by far the easiest way to communicate with students at the high school level. Yet, I don't sense that I am missing all that much. I would rather work on learning to promote deep conversations in person. I look forward to seeing what you decide.

reJoyce said...

My philosophy is to friend only people I actually know and consider a friend. I have a couple of blog only friends, but they are people whose blogs I've been reading for several years and who also comment on mine.

For teenagers, I let them friend me if they want to - they can be funny about stuff like.

If you have people asking to be your friend that you don't know well, you can make them a limited access friend, choosing only certain parts of your profile to be available to them.

Vitamin Z said...

It's great to be able to connect with old friends from high school. I think that is one of the best features. I actually got to share the gospel with a few of them through a reunion that we planned that never would have happened without Facebook.


ChrisB said...

My practice on social media sites is to only be "friends" with actual friends (be they online or not). Too bad these sites don't differentiate between friends and acquaintances.

Jamin Hubner said...

In contrast to Myspace, Facebook wins hands down (security, features, practical uses), and I think proves to be a worthy means of "social networking," if ever such a thing existed. But only time will tell how long this lasts.

Bill said...

Doug, I really enjoy Facebook and it can be a great tool for staying close and sharing information with friends and family. For example, I went to college in Kansas and most of my family lives in Chicago, so Facebook allows me to post pictures and giving them information about me without having to send them all emails--and vice versa. Facebook is a more mature version of Myspace. I'd recommend just doing things you are comfortable with and you should get some benefit from Facebook. If not, it's really easy to cancel your account.

D. A. Armstrong said...

Facebook is a tool. It can be useful for certain jobs, ie keeping in touch with old friends, sending information to large groups and other communication aspects. It however fails in more intimate personal relationships.

david said...

I make use of the privacy settings (so that only friends can see my pictures) and to only update my profile once a month. Some younger folks practically spend hours a day on Facebook.

Read carefully the privacy statement before you put any personal information on there (I have a feeling I don't even need to tell you). Basically they admit to do whatever they want with the data. There is some tailored advertising on there; for instance, Facebook always reminds me of a Christian Singles Dating Network! :-)

Overall, it is a good platform for staying connected and seeing what friends are up to, and you can also share links of interests for your friends to check out when they login. Still no substitute for a phone call or personal visit, which is why I suspect that many people waste time texting their old college buddies when they don't ever plan to pursue any further friendship with them.

My philosophy is rather simple with any online social network application: using sparingly and with care.

matt said...

O the world of Facebook. Facebook can become a huge time waster. There's an expression called "facebook stalking" that depicts a person spending hours reading through the variety of events in their "friends" lives and looking at all the pictures of various life events. also, like blogs and what not, people are prone to put too much personal information on the web.

that being said, I have appreciated reconnecting with old friends from high school and college. It also is an easy way to put up pictures of my son for grandparents and other family to see. so too, some of the old connections have proven to be successful for evangelistic purposes. i know dr. blomberg has used it for teaching purposes as well.

bottom line - walk with care, use with wisdom.

Paul D. Adams said...

Facebook is image-laden. Though some can be text-enriched my philosophy is to stick with blogging that encourages the use of the written word and the wonders of the discursive mind.

Anonymous said...

I resisted joining Facebook until a few friends, former colleagues from Christianity Today, persuaded me to give it a try. What I like most about Facebook is the ability to keep up with people who are not in my closest circle of friendship -- the sort of friends I am not likely to call suddenly, since our talking by phone is so rare, and who live at too great a distance for me to visit easily.

Some of my closest friends are on Facebook, and I enjoy keeping up with them there as well. Status Updates can be informative, humorous, and poignant glimpses (albeit the briefest glimpses) into my friends' daily lives.

I also like to meet new people -- usually friends of friends, or those who share a common interest. I don't kid myself that these new friends are likely to become close friends, but if my travels take me to the cities where they live, I feel comfortable suggesting that we get together for coffee or a meal, which usually provides the foundation for a real friendship.

One of my friends tries to limit her Facebook connections to people she's met in person, with some exceptions based on common interests or shared friendships. I have trouble saying no to most friendship requests, unless they are transparently efforts of business-oriented networking.

The greatest temptation of Facebook is to spend entirely too much time working on one's profile -- compiling long lists of your favorite movies, favorite music, etc. Somehow I doubt that this will be a serious temptation for the Constructive Curmudgeon.

As with all other experiences of the Web, Facebook has its hazards. I think one of its worst aspects could be for people who confuse Status Updates or Wall scribblings with the more demanding communication that is part of any authentic friendship. That all depends on the user, of course.

Here's a shortcut to my Facebook profile, in case any of my long-lost friends are among the Constructive Curmudgeon's readers:


If you visit, please do not be disturbed that my profile picture is of our pet cat, Spunky. I didn't like my photo, and Spunky will be the placeholder until I come up with something different.

David said...

I signed up for Facebook a few months ago, and my impression is kind of mixed:

On the one hand, it has allowed me to get back in contact with old high school and college friends. And I've really enjoyed catching up with these people, seeing pictures of their growing families, and so on.

On the other hand, I think it can evolve into just another kind of impersonal communication medium, the convenience of which discourages users from truly engaging, in an intimate way, the people in their lives.

As a side note, it drives me nuts when I see users who have several hundred friends. Are you kidding me? I have to wonder if this is just showing off, or an attempt to boost one's self-esteem, etc.

But perhaps that's an unfair psycho-analysis...

Greg Schnee said...

Dr. G, I agree with the majority of the above. Facebook is like a cell phone, a possible friend, a likely foe. Since you seem like a man in control, able to juggle preaching with teaching with blogging, it may not be a bad idea as a means to reconnect to old buddies. For instance, John Frame has a facebook page. He, like yourself, is quite astute at responding to e-mails, and facebook can keep him in touch with various RTS Alums/Fans. But one must proceed with caution (as mentioned) and like any form of communication, especially one stripped of direct contact, non-verbals, etc use facebook for what it is worth to you within the limits of its own capabilities.

Bottom line, I'll be your friend ;) However, as far as philosophical theology and cultural polemics are concerned, the blog is surely your best bet.

PS, keep the poems coming sir!

Jenn said...

I recently joined Facebook, too. Everyone kept telling me how great it is. So far, I have enjoyed reconnecting with people I have lost track of and it is easier to stay in touch with my nephews and nieces (who live out of state) through this medium. I try to limit my time on it and be selective about my friends, like others here have mentioned. If you aren't someone who prefers communicating via computer technology, I wouldn't recommend it.

Unknown said...

I like using it to see what aquaintances and friends are up to and what they think or blog on current issues.
I also very much enjoy having people who are a lot smarter than I (such as Albert Mohler or William Lane Craig) as friends to learn from what they put out there.

Katie said...

When my son moved out of state to attend College, I joined facebook to have another way of 'keeping tabs' on him. (He's at Bible College) I was able to see who his new friends are and what activities they were engaging in. Due to my pithy comments on his 'wall', several of his friends have decided they just had to get to know me, and so I have begun a few real friendships with good friends of his (he's in his junior year now). I have a prayer ministry to his friends as well, and a mentoring relationship has developed with a few girls that I've grown closer to via facebook. I've also spent time with him at school and gotten to meet some of them face to face. So it's been a real blessing to have fb connect me to my son's life and friends. I also have found a few friends from highschool again and we are planning a reunion.

I use to link to your blog often too...so it must be a good thing, right? ;o)

There are a lot of silly extras, but you are not obligated to participate in those, if you'd prefer not to.

myspace was disgusting, facebook is an improvement, but not perfect.


Unknown said...

My philosophy is summed up well here.

I deliberately abstain from the centralized social networking sites, partially due to privacy, and partially due to perceiving no real benefit. I prefer decentralized systems, such as the blogosphere with its comments, trackbacks, and links, or Usenet.

Neil said...

Hi DG. First, I respect your blog and your opinion quite a bit. You've written much prompting me to pause, think, and assess the arguments and implications of various positions. Persevere.

Second, with respect to Facebook; it is a fine tool for staying in touch with friends, and has been instrumental in rebuilding bridges that have disappeared due to time and neglect. The various means of communication the site offers ("wall" statements, private messages, photo albums) enable people to share meaningful content. That being said, it's a website, and it is therefore impersonal. It is trumped by phone calls, handwritten letters, and certainly shared company. It is no substitute for being able to embrace a distant friend or sit silently beside one who is hurting. The medium possesses limitations. In short, Facebook is so substitute for genuine community, but it can help bide the time between meetings.

Thank you for offering some space for my thoughts.


david said...

In college Facebook was great for meeting girls, because it would tell you if you had any friends in common even by 2 degrees of separation(a have a friend who has a friend who knows the person). I think they removed that feature though.

I use it to keep up with my little cousins, since I can see if they post any crazy pictures. ;)

Darrell said...

I see social networking sites as evidence that we are more disconnected than ever from communities of 'real' people with whom we can spend time face-to-face.

People who update their Facebook status 100 times per day and Twitter their every move may often be suffering from a sense of being disconnected from the larger mass of humanity. If you are focused on the people in front of you: flesh and blood friends at the coffee shop; your immediate family at the dinner table; your Christian community at church -- then you you have no need to reach out blindly to people who exist only as boxes on a screen for human contact.

We are more connected than ever before. We are more isolated than ever before.

Unknown said...

As a youth minister, my wife and I have found it to be a great tool for reaching students both inside and outside the church. We are able to see our students for who they really are, which is both encouraging and disappointing. Our goal is to teach students the gospel and its implications for our lives. On facebook, we can write blogs that give further comments on the week's lesson and to answer tough questions they may have. It also allows me to connect with mission groups and people all over the world. I certainly agree with the comments talking about its potential of being a time waster but it has realy reshaped the way I engage with our students and missions. The world is at my keyboard. as with anything else, Sola Deo Gloria.

Phil Steiger said...

As a pastor, I use it to keep in touch with some of our younger congregants. Among the useful tools there, I am able to keep them up to date on the books I am reading, and other things I find productive. But, like the other comments have noted, it can waste a lot of time.

Gem said...

All of my children over 10 have Facebook, so I signed up (7 of them including my dil). I wouldn't sign up to be your friend on Facebook because I value my privacy too much, but I am friend to all of my children. :)

I don't put much time into it other than to look at their new photos and post some encouragement to them now and then (which also serves the purpose of deterring any predators which might have an unholy attraction). The biggest problem I ever had is when all of my friends thought I was a total Jetman addict because I let my 5 and 7 year old sons use my account and unbeknownst to me they invited everyone to play Jetman a hundred times or so. (I never played it myself :) )

(Sorry if that is "anecdotal". I'm not quite sure how to stay within that boundary of yours.)

Aren't you a professor? I think you could look at Facebook as a ministry among the younger generation. It is how they network and connect.

Colin Madland said...

It hasn't been dubbed FaceCrack for nothing...

Darrell said...

I've noticed a lot of comments about Facebook as a tool for 'building relationships' but I'm forced to ask what is the nature and depth of those relationships?

If you are only 'friending' (I hate verbing, it weirds language) people whom you know then the relationship is already built somewhere in real life.

How well can you get to know someone on Facebook? Or the internet in general for that matter? You're only on when you want to be. You can pretend to be whatever or whoever you want. There are none of the implicit social obligations that we have with people we meet offline. It's at best a mere shadow of an actual relationship. A chance to interact without risk and to converse without context.

(and in the interest of full disclosure I have 159 Facebook 'friends.' I know whereof I speak.)

david said...


Once at a small group Bible study a young man said, "You know I have the most perfect relationship with this girl on Facebook, and we've never even met."

The whole room exploded in laughter.

Mark O. said...

just thought you might be interested... found this link on Justin Taylor's blog... http://www.buzzardblog.com/buzzard_blog/2008/11/thinking-biblic.html

I think it is a good summary of the pluses and minuses of facebook.