Honestly, I wrote this post before I knew what the Media Monday topic was for the day - little did I know that it was "Media and your Friendships". This post that I wrote previously ties right in with Courtney's topic so instead of waiting until later this week to post this as I had planned OR writing something different following Courtney's outline, I'm just going to post this today! Feel free to click on the link above and read her take on this as well :-)
FUN: For me, Facebook is fun. When I first started using it, I loved that I could connect with old college friends. Those were the first people that I searched for outside of my immediate family. Than it became a way for me to connect with a few people from work, than from church and even cousins I only see every 5-10 years. I do set limits with my friends. I tend to "ignore" many friend requests I get if I don't know the person on a personal level or through some group (church, scrapbooking, etc) I do this because I don't really want strangers having an inside view of my life. When I was working, I did not accept friend requests of the people who worked for me nor did I add my boss as my "friend" either. I think that separation is a good thing for all involved. So what is the fun in facebook? Reading the status' that friends write and being able to comment on them. Looking at pictures that people put up - sometimes they just make me laugh. Finding out fun and exciting news from friends that I may have otherwise not known. For as much fun as facebook is, limits have to be set and I'm not talking about "time" limits. That is really up to each person. Limits are more in the line of what you comment on or how you comment. Facebook, in my opinion, is not a place to air your dirty laundry, have a political debate, or to have a debate with an old friend. Those things should be saved for a private and face-to-face discussion with the person it involves. There are people I know who have been hurt and "attacked" through facebook and I just don't understand it. Remember the words of I Peter 3:10 - Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.
Use caution when speaking on facebook and keep it Fun!
FRIENDSHIP: Facebook is a great away make and build friendships but it can also destroy those some relationships. Isn't easy to start to think that there is a conflict with a friend because they don't respond to something that you say or isn't it easy to start to think that they like someone better than you because you see a conversation? Isn't it also easy to read into what a person is saying instead of trying to take it at face value? When I supervised a group of employees in the customer service area, we dealt with customers all of the time - most often on the phone and sometimes via e-mail. These customers also included fellow employees. I would often hear the employee complaining about something that was said or written in an e-mail. I would hear the words repeated with emotion (sometimes STRONG emotion) and wonder to myself if that is what was meant. Than, I would remind my staff that we cannot put emotion into what someone else has said or written - we don't know where they are coming from or if that is even what they meant. By removing the emotion - the e-mail or phone call takes on a different meaning . .. and the anger is no longer there. It is the same on facebook. Don't read into things that are said. I do have a few simple things I try to follow to avoid this situation and be proactive. I don't have long conversations on some one's wall that are just between the two of us - specifically, I don't like inviting people over or suggesting we go out to dinner through a wall post. That is the first way to make others feel left out. Instead I send them a private message or, oh my goodness, I call them LOL I also try not to reference items that are between the two of us where the world can see. (Or sometimes three or four people) I also ask myself how I would feel if I saw a couple of friends having that same conversation and, I can answer honestly because I've been in that spot - it's not fun to feel left out! I DO ask simple questions to friends and faimlyThe righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray
Also Proverbs 16:29 is a good reminder too A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.
FELLOWSHIP: Finally, is fellowship - what I really mean is how Facebook impacts our church relationships (except church doesn't start with "F" obviously!) When we add friends for church to our facebook page something changes. You are no longer just chatting it up with old friends, you are now talking to your kids Sunday School Teacher, your Pastor, your Worship leader etc. These are people that not only you are accountable to but also people who impact your life from a spiritual standpoint. You also become friends with other people who attend church with you - some who are strong in their Walk and some who are watching what other people do because they really aren't confident in their faith. What that says to me is that I have a responsibility to keep my speech uplifting and right. I will admit that I'm guilty recently of complaining some about the weather. I didn't think alot about it until a few people said things when I saw them face to face - things like "wow, you really hate this heat" (which I do). I don't want to be known as a complainer so I try to be careful what I write :-) It is easy to have a view change of someone you go to church with - all they have to do is post something that is inappropriate and you no longer see that person in the same light. I've struggled with this in the past year and it has been discouraging but I try to focus on being what I know God wants me to be and than allowing Him to work in the lives of others. I also think that Facebook can really impact relationships within the church. This goes back to the comments on friendships - it is very easy to begin to feel like the one that is never invited to anything when we start to see close bonds being developed between a small group of people. My advice remains the same - if you including just a few people, keep the invites Private. Of course you don't always have to invite everyone but cliques are something we all dealt with in high school and dealing with them in the church is just has hard. And yes, every church has them no matter how hard they work at NOT having them :-) That is just human nature! Is there anything wrong with having close friends in church or inviting a group of people over? Of course not, I just think it is important to make sure that it is done in a way to make people feel excluded all of the time.
So, what is the bottom line to this little post? Enjoy Facebook as a fun tool but don't like it replace true friendship and fellowship. Take time to really get to know people away from the computer :-)