Saturday, January 22, 2011
Facebook- and how you use it
Facebook. The mega-powered cultural giant of today. If Facebook were a nation, it would only have two or three countries larger than it. After all, it hosts some 500,000,000 (yeah, count the zeroes) people's public broadcast of what their life is like. The movie (which may or may not have taken a lot of liberties in its story telling) swept up 4 golden globes and is on track for a healthy crop of Oscars as well.
Long-time readers of the blog will know this: I fight just about any cultural element that doesn't seem moral or safe. For me, Facebook was no different. It had taken Myspace's title for "most addictive, popular, and dangerous site on the web" in my book. I would see news articles about people being killed or fired from their jobs or terrible stuff like that because of a stupid thing they posted on Facebook. It just didn't seem worth it at all.
But recently my view started tilting. For one, the movie made about Facebook (The Social Network) prompted a lot of controversy about its truth to the real story of the real-life Mark Zuckerburg, main founder of Facebook. I looked at a couple interviews with him, and his intentions seemed genuine, if not a little too pro-internet tech savvy for my tastes. I personally feel like the internet should be an information source, not a surrogate social life.
What finally turned the tables, though, was a personal thing. The Seminary for the Archdiocese of New York (an Archdiocese is a bunch of catholic churches looked after by a bishop) decided to send their young men in the early years of training for the priesthood (the first four out of eight) to a merged seminary with another Archdiocese in the area. This meant the guys I was friends with at my Cathedral Prep Weekends who were entering Seminary weren't going to be around where I go anymore next year, and it would be sketchy if we ever got to see each other. In the back of my mind, my knee-jerk reaction was "Well, you know what to do, get a Facebook."
The fact I was even thinking about it freaked me out. It was about the last thing I wanted to do, but it had benefits that seemed sound enough. I talked about it with the Prep guys. I talked with my parents. And I decided to get one.
Now, right off the bat, I want to say that Facebook is not the black abyss of sin I thought it was :D. If you friend the right people and not the wrong ones, you can be in a faith-filled environment that is totally safe. I even made a page for my new orphan advocacy blog, www.speaking4thesilent.blogspot.com. The fact I can so easily communicate with anyone I want to as often as I want to is great.
But at the same time, Facebook can quickly turn into a popularity trip and/or a risky place if you don't play your cards right. Anybody who knows you or knows someone who knows you will see that you're on Facebook. Now, you can make it so private that only the people you friend will see the information you put out (which I did). And you can be defined in some aspects by how many friends you have. The more you have the "cooler" you seem to some people.
But for one, just friending anybody can open you up to some risky people or even people you think you know posting crude or inappropriate stuff. Keeping your friend circle your close personal friends or people that you feel safe around is a much smarter route.
So is Facebook totally worth it and should you go on right now and make a profile? Eh, probably not. But is it an awesome way to connect with old friends or keep in touch with people and spread God's message? Absolutely. Anything can be accomplished when you let God, not culture, define what you make it.