I Don’t Facebook

let-i-mdon’t Facebook.  Is it a verb, to facebook? I’m not sure. Whatever the case, I’m beginning to think that maybe it’s good I don’t given the potential harms it allegedly causes. One article, for instance, stated that it can “shorten attention spans, encourage instant gratification and make young people more self-centred.” I can understand the argument the article makes about “computer games and faced-paced TV shows” and how they  play a factor but Facebook….? Even though I don’t use it (and have no intentions of doing so) I have to admit that it doesn’t seem that bad.

facebook_logoThose that I know that are on it (and it honestly seems like everyone is except for me: priests, monks, even bishops) are doing nothing, it seems, but exchanging short messages back and forth. Even though it might not be for me, I can’t quite see anything wrong – much less dangerous – about it.

One good point the article makes is a quote from a neuroscientist: ‘I often wonder whether real conversation in real time may eventually give way to these sanitized and easier screen dialogues, in much the same way as killing, skinning and butchering an animal to eat has been replaced by the convenience of packages of meat on the supermarket shelf.’

Some weeks back I went shopping. It was after Christmas which meant there were rows and rows of cars. So I parked in the back and as I was walking to the store I noticed a young man walking ahead of me. He took out his cell phone and started talking to someone. It got me to thinking: did he really have an important phone call to make or was it just an excuse to do something to avoid eye contact with fellow shoppers? When one is out somewhere in public, especially alone, the easiest thing seems to be to grab your cell phone and find someone to talk to, keep you company. It’s certainly easier than having to, God forbid, end up talking to a total stranger.  No thanks, we have our group of friends we are comfortable with and no room, or maybe no desire, to meet new ones.

Even the Pope has an opinion on this. He was quoted warning that “obsessive” virtual socializing can isolate people from real interaction and deepen the digital divide by excluding those already marginalized. Furthermore, he urged “producers to ensure that the content respects human dignity and the ‘goodness and intimacy of human sexuality.'” (One wonders if the ‘producers’ really care what the Pope has to say.)

Anyway, the question is: will doing away with Facebook help any? At this point, after all the video games and other technological contraptions, I’m afraid not.  Then again, what if we were to do away with it? (For the betterment of mankind, that is.) Would it really matter that people can’t send silly little messages back and forth to friends. Friends, by the way, who live all over the world. If Facebook is the modern day Malt Shop where you go to hang out and meet up with your friends, is there something socially or morally wrong with that?  Let’s face it, the world is getting larger and larger. Friends we grew up with, went to school or church or played in the neighborhood with as kids, are now contacting us on Facebook from Chicago or Atlanta or Texas. They want to stay in touch and now, with the press of a button, they actually can.

Hence the irony in all of this. For, I agree with the article and all it’s social concerns but only if they are geared at children. I find it funny that more and more adults are facebooking, let’s call it. And more and more that I talk to say the same thing: When they first heard about it, they thought it was for kids, teenagers, but then they somehow signed up and eventually got hooked. They’ve stayed in touch with people they haven’t seen for years and years. Old friends found them and “befriended” (or re-friended) them.  If they were to stop facebooking they would once again lose touch with old friends.

Alas, despite the harmlessness I find in it, I still don’t facebook. My wife likes to respond to that with a quick: “Yet!”

9 thoughts on “I Don’t Facebook

  1. In moderation, Facebook can be quite beneficial in my opinion! Never has it been possible to upload information/media and converse so quickly with many relatives and friends. The key is moderation. =D

  2. Don’t do it, Father! Resist the Borg. Resist!

    All kidding aside, I find it a waste of time. At least writing for a blog requires creative thought and there can be interesting conversations (of sorts). When I open up FB I look at the screen and think, “This is so boring, why am I doing this? Does anyone really care that I’m “fixing dinner” or “reading a book”?

  3. Father,
    I enjoyed reading your article about Facebook. I am learning a lot from your website, and links you sent to Dusan. Thank you,
    Tara Shapich

  4. I should also add, to my comment – your blog is wonderful as well for my dire need of spiritual guidance! I don’t feel quite so rotten anymore. Thank you!
    I’m looking forward to reading daily throughout Post.

  5. Perhaps I’ll get the Facebook bug soon. I doubt it.

    It just occurred to me that blogging is in many regards the opposite of Facebook. If Facebook is for friends reconnecting and staying in touch, blogging is about staying in touch with strangers. I have never met the majority of my readers.

    Subsequently, I can’t de-friend you (even if you are Facebook users)! As always, thanks for the comments.

  6. Oh Father! I agree with Popadija as well – all in due time! Just think – look how many people you’ve reached with your Blog and what good it does for us! Think how much good you would do for us that need spiritual guidance if you had a facebook page!
    This past Christmas season was wonderful for me – such a support group (for me) this facebook is!
    It’s great to have Orthodox Christians on there to support others! I”m looking forward to the support from so many during this Post.
    Can’t wait for you to join! 🙂 LOL

  7. Facebook I presume will become the new MySpace, in that everyone will try to find something evil about it. It seems that society tries to find anything popular bad (hey, remember when Elvis was the antichrist?).

    I do have a Facebook account, but I use it to mostly keep track of friends. I’ve gotten in touch with old school friends (which for a military brat like me can be hard) and it’s a nice way to keep in touch with old college buddies. I agree, however, that some people can allow their real life to be replaced by a virtual one.

  8. Oh, Father! I agree with Popadija: I’m quite sure that your time in Facebook shall come. 😉

    Meanwhile, I have been on Facebook since shortly after it started (in fact, almost immediately after they created a network for my school), and I haven’t noticed any evil effects — certainly not any reduced attention sp…

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