A Facebook Skeptic? News Flash: You Are in Control
Okay, I get it: Facebook is not for everybody. I hear complaints all the time about privacy settings. I also frequently hear the groans from people who have never tried Facebook or get pushback from church leaders, older folks, and parents who are concerned that social media are killing the brain cells of our young people and not allowing them to connect intimately.
The New York Times recently ran an article highlighting Facebook's plans to expand its membership beyond its current 800 million active users through its much-anticipated public offering (which I will not participate in). "Shunning Facebook, and Living to Tell About It" quotes Facebook resisters saying things like, "I wasn't calling my friends anymore," and my personal favorite, "I don't want all of my information out there."
My response: Call your friends, and don't put all of your information out there. The article presents several of the concerns addressed in this article. At the core, however, it also reveals some "shunners" want the benefits but are paralyzed from taking the plunge to join Facebook. One resister actually said, "If I have a crush on a guy, I'll make my friends look him up for me [on Facebook]." Clearly, she understands at least one benefit of using the site.
After responsibly using Facebook for several years, I don't quite understand the resistance. (I should probably add that I do not play any of the Facebook games or participate in third-party features.) It's as if some think of Facebook as a thief that comes in to steal all of your personal information and then sell it to the highest bidder. Facebook can "see" only the information that you provide, and you can set your own privacy settings to determine what to share and with whom you share it. Remember, you are in control.
There are other challenges, of course. Some people find themselves on Facebook all the time. Others get frustrated with their friends' updates and feel compelled to respond. If you blow up on Facebook, chances are you blow up during face-to-face encounters as well. The only difference is, now all of your friends know about it. These challenges are really a matter of self-discipline. It's quite simple, I believe: share what you want, with whom you want, when you want; manage your time, and discern what you "put out there" for others to see.
Facebook is not supposed to be the heartbeat of any true relationship. Face-to-face encounters are preferred; phone calls are still appropriate; handwritten notes should not become a lost art, and e-mails still come in quite handy. Therefore, Facebook is only one of many means for people to get and stay connected. As a former military officer, I have family members and friends who literally live all over the world. There is no possible way for me to visit each of them in any given year. The only reason I joined Facebook was because my former beautician, who is also a military wife, sent me a friend request. When we last saw each other, she was five months pregnant and her family received orders to Okinawa, Japan. I wanted to see pictures of her new baby and there was no way I was flying to Japan to do it.
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