no-facebook1Facebook Community,

I need some help here. I’ve taken another step into the 21st Century. Yes, I’ve joined the Facebook community – trepidaciously, but I’m in. How long I’m in is up for grabs. I’m just not sure it’s good for me.

I joined Facebook – with my daughter’s help – to see if it can be used to reach out to Christian Marketplace Leaders – those that desire to be disciple-makers and transformation agents. It seemed like a good idea. I even had a Facebook member encourage me to try it. I started with a “test” membership to get some hands-on experience. I never expected the dilemma and anxiety it would create. It’s funny – and it’s not.

Here’s what happened (I assume this is “normal”): The first day I got more than 25 “friend requests” – some from people I don’t know, and many from people 30+ years younger than me.  The e-mail message says, “________ added you as a friend”. What’s with that? It seems a bit presumptuous to me. Now don’t get me wrong; I love all of these people (even the strangers); and I’m honored that they want to be my friend. But what kind of commitment are they expecting? For me, friends have always been someone I spent time with, invested in, shared my life with. How do you do that with 25 or more people on the Internet?

I know I am showing my age here, but what is this really about? Have they (i.e., we) created a new definition of “friend”? I am struck by the irony; and saddened by the revelation. Many say that the Internet has made the world smaller; and I bet they would site Facebook as an example. I understand some have hundreds of Facebook “friends”. But is this a carefully disguised substitute for really investing in people’s lives? It seems to me that the time spent with “friends” on Facebook would be better invested making real friends in my living room, or at the local coffee shop.

Anyway, here’s my dilemma: I now have over 25 people wanting to be my friend, and I have to decide how to respond. Can I create a “focused community” in Facebook without:

  1. Including everyone that invites me to be their friend?
  2. Hurting the feelings of those I say “no” to, or ignore?

Assuming I’ve made a mistake, how do I back out of this without hurting someone’s feelings? Dare I show my face at church? What are people saying (or typing) behind my back? Will I have to move my family to another town? How do you escape an online community that stretches around the globe? Alas, why did I step into the 21st Century?


Your friend,