An Uneasy Relationship with Facebook

I have had an uneasy relationship with Facebook, to say the least. I used to say that I was “sociologically opposed” to it, and I thought myself rather witty. But I eventually joined anyway. I got tired of not knowing things about people I loved, not being able to see the photos of the babies in my life, not getting replies to e-mails because suddenly e-mail was “old-school.” I thought I better make myself able to be “found” by people who would want to find me.

I remained ambivalent about Facebook, and I even blogged some of my concerns about what it was doing to community. Well, it took about eight months or so–and random friend requests from people I hadn’t seen in over twenty years and, quite frankly, didn’t care to catch up with–that I realized something.

I hadn’t been lost after all. There was no need to be “found.” So I wrote a final status update and deleted my Facebook account.

I don’t regret my decision, though I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that not being on Facebook necessarily means I will be less connected to people who matter to me, despite my best efforts at community. I’ve already missed announcements of pregnancies (and births!) and I don’t see very many pictures of my friends. But I’m okay with that. Every time I read about some privacy scandal related to Facebook, I breathe a little freer.

On the business side of things, though, something I’ve really missed about Facebook is getting to promote Texas Schmexas. I really liked linking to blog posts, and I especially liked linking back to the pages of folks who write for “guest post Wednesdays.”

So what to do? I’ve come up with an uneasy solution, friends.

Schmexas is headed to Facebook. For real.

Texas Schmexas now has its very own Facebook page. There is now a little “f” in the upper left corner of the blog that takes you to the page, and if you decide to “like” Texas Schmexas on Facebook, you’ll get updates from the blog through your newsfeed. See, I’m all about being all things to all people.

(Can I tell you that I find it unbelievable that as I sit here and type up this announcement, two people have “liked” it already? Goodness. You Facebook  people are crazy!)

Feel free to give some feedback about this decision. I’m prepared to take a ribbing.

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7 comments on “An Uneasy Relationship with Facebook

  1. Rebekah says:

    Technology is a neutral tool. It’s how we choose to use it that makes it good or bad.

    Being “way out here” in Gtown, Facebook played a big part in staying connected to our church family in Lexington – especially when we were only “going into town” at most twice a week. It’s also a fast, private (the whole Facebook privacy thing is way overblown) way to share information with people without them feeling an obligation to respond. Last night, Facebook became the care volunteer launching point for my friend whose son was just diagnosed with Leukemia.

    I know some people let Facebook become a place to re-live the hurt from high school or a place for petty debates, but they ultimately are the ones that allow that drama into their life and they have the ability to shut it down.

    For me, Facebook has been a way to stay connected to my communities, become more deeply rooted in my communities, and even get to know people better in ways that my preschool-child oriented schedule wouldn’t allow during this season of my life.

    • elizabeth says:

      Hey, friend! I completely agree with you: technology is a neutral tool. At least it is in theory. And the pros you list for Facebook are genuine goods. Keeping in touch, networking, raising awareness–building community, for cryin’ out loud. Absolutely. Facebook can facilitate this. And it does, a lot of the time. I endorse these things.

      I still think there are dangers to interacting with people primarily through Facebook, though, and I don’t mean “dangers” like “security threats.” I mean that our community is actually damaged in a particular way when we just toss out information about ourselves to be gobbled up whenever is convenient by our friends and families. It’s not the “tossing it” that’s dangerous or the “gobbling it” that’s dangerous–it’s the “whenever it is convenient” that I find problematic. I’m a busy person, my friends are busy people, and Facebook makes sharing information easy. Too easy. Too little investment.

      Through Facebook I can learn when a friend is pregnant, that she’s having a boy, and what his name is going to be without even talking to her… oh wait, I have. 🙂 And she lives in my town and I have only seen her once in the last four months or so. That’s not much of a relationship, and it’s a sign to me that I’m probably doing a bad job maintaining relationships. Being on Facebook communicated information but it didn’t really build a relationship over that period of time. What do you think?

      Facebook is not evil. It’s not even “bad.” You’re absolutely right to say that it’s neutral. And I think it’s even “good” if we are also working at our relationships apart from Facebook–if we’re having conversations, a back-and-forth, alongside the information-tossing-and-gobbling that goes on and isn’t evil in and of itself. But if we’re not doing that, too, not working at and investing in community, then I think Facebook interactions turn into something that looks a whole lot like excuses for gossip… “I saw on Facebook today…” or “Did you check Facebook today? Did you see…”

      But then again, I don’t even have a texting plan. 🙂

      • Rebekah says:

        Being on Facebook communicated information but it didn’t really build a relationship over that period of time. What do you think?

        Perhaps it didn’t build a relationship in that particular instance, but it played a role in maintaining that relationship. Plus I knew I’d see you tonight and could tell you then.

        It’s not the “tossing it” that’s dangerous or the “gobbling it” that’s dangerous–it’s the “whenever it is convenient” that I find problematic. I’m a busy person, my friends are busy people, and Facebook makes sharing information easy. Too easy. Too little investment.

        To me it sounds like you’re saying Facebook is too convenient. Like running water is too convenient and we really don’t appreciate water in the same way since we don’t draw it from a well anymore?

        Perhaps it’s about a difference in how we use Facebook? I tend to use it as a way of keeping in touch when I can’t be a daily part of someone’s life for a week, a month or ever. It’s more of a launching point for relationship development. Today it reminded me that I needed to give my friend who just adopted twins a call to see how she was doing. Something she should could only hint at in her Tweet (Twitter is enough like Facebook that I think it translates).

        Maybe it’s a quality over quantity issue? I want to develop and maintain meaningful relationships with many people, but time and geography tend to limit that. It seems like inevitably you have to make a choice to exclude certain people from your community development just due to limits on your time, distance and/or common interests.

        I really don’t think we’re that far apart in our assessments of Facebook done well and Facebook done poorly. I’m fine if people choose not to have a Facebook account because they feel it is bad for them personally for whatever reason. The thing that I see trending with friends of mine is they either are too Wendell Berry for Facebook or they give up Facebook for Jesus, and that’s fine. But I also think they have to understand they are consciously turning off one potential avenue of community in their lives. It may not be our preferred method of communicating with people, but sometimes you just have to meet them where they are. Kind of like I have to do with my sisters and texting! 😉

  2. I’m self-employed. Facebook is a natural tool for promoting my business and my writing. I am very careful about what I disclose about my personal life (no pictures of my kids, never the specific place I live, never if I’m going to be gone).

    I think this is a good move! I’ll Like Texas Schmexas!

    • elizabeth says:

      Thanks, Susie! I’m glad you agree. I still have some kinks to get worked out as far as making the Texas Schmexas Facebook plan of action a little less cumbersome on my end and more attractive on your end, but I think it’s a good start.

      And you’re correct about using Facebook to promote yourself and wise about being careful what you write on it. I’m careful on the blog, too, not to mention when I’ve been away. I even schedule out posts during times when I am away. But I’m kind of a nerd. 🙂

  3. elizabeth says:

    Rebekah,
    I can’t reply to a reply to a reply, but I didn’t want to leave you hanging (though I bet we’ll talk about this tonight). I don’t like self-righteousness regarding not being on Facebook, that’s for sure. I think I was one of those people before I got on Facebook. Now that I have chosen to leave it, I just don’t talk much about it at all, figuring it’s up to everyone what they want to do.

    You are absolutely right that by not being on Facebook you are willingly giving up a way to connect with certain people. I actually cheat and sign in as J to see pictures of my niece and nephews. I have considered going back on Facebook under a pseudonym to be “friends” with the people that I really do care about.

    So I’m kind of hypocritical about it. Alas.

    Thanks for bringing up these questions/answers and extending the conversation a bit. I like you.

  4. R, J's Brother says:

    on a relatively random side note…I think your idea of creating a pseudonym account sounds like a good idea…only being connected to those who YOU want to connect with. I have no problem not accepting requests, but even I have a list of “friends” that I don’t know why they are on there. I am less attached to fb than many I know and rarely post myself and am therefore pretty ambivalent about the whole thing.

    no real purpose behind this comment. just rambling…

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