Friday, May 6, 2011

Facebook : on the de/fence

I recently found myself surrounded by the last remaining trio of human beings who has not joined facebook. They're smart folks (brilliant, in fact) and more relational than your average group. But they had nothing good to say about social media - they decried it all (and fb in particular) as nurturing a false sense of connection and contributing to an overall shallow approach to relationship.
Now, I don't doubt their insights. We didn't engage the topic for long, and I'm sure their list of reasons for shunning this realm is well-reasoned and incontrovertibly defended. On the other hand, they don't stand a chance of convincing me. Why not? Well, for starters:

1) Social media developed organically out of our culture, for a reason. We westerners live fractured, distracted, commuter lives. This isn't the ideal for human flourishing, to be sure, and I certainly believe we should be active participants in subverting these dynamics. On the other hand, this is the reality we face. And social media allows us to continue to interact in spite of significant challenges to relationship. It streamlines planning for actual face-to-face contact, it allows virtual connection when physical meetings are impossible, and it reminds us that our lives are inevitably intertwined with a broad community.

2) In an era of high mobility (both chosen and forced) social media can help us maintain a level of connection to our roots. Unlike letters every other month (the story of my childhood) we enjoy up-to-the moment engagement with people we love but who live far away. For a TCK, (ThirdCultureKid) this is invaluable.

3) Social media serves as a tool for not just relational networking, but for intentional & expanded learning. I could sit here and keep writing, or I could learn from my friends and connections. I could keep arguing my point, but I'd much rather hear yours. Why do you think social media is a good thing? Post your thoughts here, argue with me (or each other). Help me think this through!

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