There are 30 celebrities, 10 Brochowskis I don’t know, and 11 businesses or brands. There are 30 who I’ve never met, save for 2 phone calls, 30 I only know in passing, and 22 I’ve never met who are local who I’m making it my goal to try and meet soon. This leaves about 716 that I’ve met and know. I might have worked with them.  I definitely have a memory of them, and I can probably identify their voice. Many I see on a daily, or at least weekly to monthly basis.

Of course I’m talking about my Facebook Friend list.

But why?

Sunday, I heard a friend say that all this great technology was actually ruining “real communication.” I of course balked at this. I love this great technology. I think it has actually enhanced communication. In the interest of keeping the peace I didn’t argue with my friend.

Yesterday I noted that more than a few folks are “giving up Facebook for Lent,” so I shared this observation on my Timeline.

“I suppose it could just be me, but if you give up Facebook or some other social network for Lent aren't you really just saying: ‘I don't value those relationships so I'm okay with just blowing them off for 40 days?’”

i.e. In other words, ergo and forsooth, I think giving up Facebook could ruin (at least some part of) communication.

But that’s just my opinion, which is why I posted that. I wanted to have the discussion that followed.

Responses ranged from 100% agreement to Facebook is too new to establish cultural norms to  “Or is it saying because I value those relationships/form of communication, I am willing to give up something valuable to me for God for Lent?”

I agree with every one of them.


Okay, no not really.

I understand that there are many who see social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and even blogs as nothing more than idle pursuits. Even folks who participate in those mediums sometimes downplay them as being nothing more than time wasters, stuff to do when there is nothing else to do.

But that’s not me.

I see social networks as valuable additions to those tools we already had at our disposal for communication because to me it’s not about the tools.

It’s about the people. Plain.And.Simple.

Now, I’m not passing judgment on folks who have decided to give up Facebook for Lent if they see that as a true sacrifice, if they just need a break, if they are resolved to use other perhaps more personal forms of communication to reach out to people in their lives. If they are trying to strengthen their relationships I’m all for that, and I will allow that my statement in passing doesn’t allow for their reasoning behind their decisions, not that they owe anybody an explanation.

But I wonder if we realize the true power of all these tools as we put them to use every day. I wonder if we understand the implications of our actions? Do we get that we might only know about what’s going on in each other’s lives because of our social network, and how valuable just knowing is to one friend, or another.

While I might know, in person, at least 700 some odd people on my friend list I am very aware that in all likelihood, without these tools I would not have the contact, the interactions with many of them that I have now, and I don’t believe for a second that would be a good thing. Not at all.

Don’t misunderstand -

I get that Facebook is “just Facebook,” and Twitter is “just Twitter,” etc... and so on...

I value personal interaction more than any other form of communication. I’d like to sit with all of you for hours, conversing deep into the night holding a beverage in hand, wiping a tear, or sharing a laugh.

Unfortunately, as we all know, that’s not possible. There just aren’t enough hours in the day, or dollars in the bank account for the travel necessary to bring us together.

While I would never advocate for replacing a personal interaction, a letter, an email, or even a phone call, (okay maybe a phone call - I do hate the phone) I would hope that folks might realize and value the social network communication that sometimes might have to suffice, and be grateful for it rather than seeing it as a commodity that we can simply cast aside.

Your Mileage May Vary.