Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Good-bye, Facebook Friends

A couple of days ago, I came to a conclusion that I believe the Lord has been leading me to for quite some time.  I actually fought it for a while, but I was ready to stop fighting.  At the risk of offending many very good and dear friends - true friends - I removed many of my "friends" on Facebook.  Let me make it clear that no one had offended me in any way.  If any one looked at the people I removed and the people I kept, they would be hard-pressed to find any rhyme or reason to my method. 

I am a very social person and I love to know about people, what makes them happy, sad, etc.  This makes Facebook both a blessing and a curse.  The fact that it takes so much of my time makes it more curse than blessing.  Here's a typical scenario:  "I'm just going to go on FB and post this really cool thought to my status.  Hmm...let me see what's going on with so-and-so.  I'll just quick check the other updates.  What?!  That person is expecting?  Let's just add a congrats comment, here.  Aww...their kids are sick. That's too bad.  Oh, while I'm here, I might as well see if there've been any pictures posted from today's picnic.  After all, it has been 3 hours since it ended..."  The next thing I know, an hour has passed and I have accomplished nothing. 

Truly, do I need to know everything about everybody?   Do I need to know so-and-so is going to yet another birthday party?  Do I need to know that their child blinked 5,032 times yesterday?  Do I need to know every single detail about every single issue in every single person's life?  Don't get me wrong - I do care about people.  I rejoice with those that do rejoice and weep with them that weep.  I have just come to realize that people have done that for thousands of years without social networking.

For months, I've heard husbands make fun of Facebook and pastors preach about it (not necessarily "against" but definitely messages of warning).  I would defend it to my own conscience as a social outreach for those of us ladies who "stay at home" all day (though, there are very few of us on Facebook who actually do this).  It was better than being on the phone all day, right?  Really?  I began to see the point these men were trying to make.  (In case you didn't realize this - men actually have good insight on most things!)  A lot of what goes on through Facebook is silly.  It seems to be resembling more and more  I Timothy 5:13 - "And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busy-bodies, speaking things which they ought not."  Many of us on Facebook are not saying things we ought not say, but maybe our words are idle.  Most of us are wandering from house to house via cyberspace.   Knowing what's going on in everyone's life makes me feel like a busy-body.  It got to the point I began to feel physically nauseated by the whole thing.  By Saturday night, I knew what I had to do...remove the majority of my friends.

Usually, when people remove "friends" on Facebook, they remove those who have offended them in some way - either through words, pictures, or lifestyle.  This was not the case with anyone I removed.  I removed very dear friends of mine.  I honestly removed all but one person I attend church with (a young person whose parents appreciate my input)  as well as several other good friends whom I see on a regular basis.  If I want to know what is going on in their lives or them to know what's happening with me, we can talk in person.  I removed those whom I am "friends" with on Facebook but never say more than "hello" to when I see them in person.  If I'm not going to take the time to really know them in person, I feel a bit fake for knowing all aspects of their life.  I actually like seeing someone I haven't seen in a while, NOT knowing all of their life's happenings, and having a great chat just getting "caught up."  So, that is why I even removed some friends who live in the area, but I only see once in a while.  

So, who did I keep?  Those friends and missionaries who live out of state or country.  I kept my best friend who has been a part of my life since I was born (literally) and I kept my brothers and sister-in-law. I kept a couple of in-town friends that have been a part of my life for a long time and because their status updates are often spiritually thought-provoking.  One friend mentioned how I was a spiritual encouragement to many and a testimony to the lost so I should reconsider.  My Christian friends can live without my 2-cents, but, because of this sweet friend's advice, I did keep two people whom I know are lost and I do have some part in their real lives.  Many of the people I kept aren't even on Facebook a lot, which is a blessing.

I ended up eliminating over 150 people and still keeping 99 friends.  I find that my time has been freed up tremendously and, because I'm no longer updating my status 5 times a day, I have the desire to write things of worth again.  Ok, maybe not worth much, but at least longer than 10 words.

If you were a friend whom I removed and you are in any way hurt, I am sorry.  I had no intention of hurting anyone.  My Facebook photos, my photo page, and this blog are still open to anyone to view and comment. One may say, as I did, "But Facebook is a great way to give and receive prayer requests."  I will still receive prayer requests and such through other means of communication...such as, face to face conversation, a phone call, texting, or e-mail.

This decision may not be for everyone at this time.  But, I really believe it's what the Lord wanted of me.  It actually was very difficult to remove those I love, but, in reality - REALITY - I did not.  They are still very much a part of my LIFE - my face to face real life - and I am ever so grateful for that.


Carolee's Corner Canary Islands said...

It is interesting, I just wrote on my blog on "why I have a facebook account" because I just read two other blog entries (not yours) by preachers who deleted theirs--and also it was a requirement for Jenny and Hannah to read those two articles for their college internet policy. I don't spend hours on facebook, but I do enjoy reading about my friends from church (and maybe a few relatives--but don't care much about the rest of the stuff)and what is going on there. I would never hear anything otherwise--and I enjoy hearing about the good things that are happening.

Victoria said...

I totally understand the near-necessity for missionaries to have FB - which is why I kept my missionary friends. Always glad to know how God is working in the Canary Islands!

Cheryl said...

Just wanted to give an "amen" to your post. But I have to say, I giggled when you said you were still keeping 99 friends after eliminating 150! I think I had about 40 friends total when I got off FB! In as big of a church as I attend, I still don't think I know 250 people! LOL! :o)
I hope you will blog a bit more now though as I always enjoy reading what the Lord has put on your heart and enjoy your motherly humor!

Dee said...

I actually closed out my FB account. Primarily because I couldn't stand seeing some of the pictures, some of the posts, and knowing who blew who's nose!! :) Not worth my time.. Next, and slow to come.. the childrens account!! Very good Vicki. I'm proud of you for posting this and sharing your heart with us.

Ted Snyder said...

I whole heartily agree, that's why if took us so long to get FB and actually considering getting rid of it because I get caught up in it also! The one blessing is when I get lonely I can get info about another missionary or friend from home. However, I've been thinking I'd be better off to go to the throne of Grace instead. After all what did Ann Judson do when she didn't get her first letter for a year! Thanks for the encouragement and the reminder of why I have FB and to keep it under my husband's control. - dawn

Jamie Parfitt said...

I had a nice long comment, and it disappeared. I'll try to re-create it.
Very well put Vickie. There are two things that come to my mind.
1. Don't let someone's decision to make a stand against something get you upset. A personal decision to not do what "everyone else" is doing is not meant as a criticism of "everyone else." God sometimes wants one person to stop or start something that is bad or good for that person alone. At the same time, don't rule out that God may be using this stand to prompt YOU to make the same decision. (Boy, I had it worded a lot better the first time, but I'm rushing.)
2. It is easy to not be "keeping at home" by being on the phone or on the internet. They had the same problem in earlier days, by "calling" on each other. That's probably where we get the term phone call. Not like we are calling out with our voices, but we are making a visit with someone by phone. Incidentally, ladies used to print cards to leave to prove they had made the effort to make a "call," if the lady they came to call on was not home.
3. (I thought of another one). I have never been on Facebook. My husband was afraid it would suck me in and keep me on the computer for hours, and might lead to wrong associations eventually. So we have never had it. Our college-grad son is on it a lot, as well as on the other networking sites, and we are sad to see how much of his time and thoughts it takes. But we are thankful he listened when we said he should remove all female "friends." He removed them all and a few males, and still had a large number left! Which leads me to ask, "Are we cyber packrats? Or are we insecure if we don't have 250 electronic associations?"

The Reynolds said...

I would say Amen to no fb. We have never had it and won't. I admit I do not know a lot about FB, but from what I have heard from others I don't want to. We started a blog to journal our life and allow friends and family to keep up with us. It keeps in touch with out a ton of time (that is a big danger with computers period) It has worked well for us and I thoroughly enjoy others blogs (*hint*hint) Hope to "see" more of you! I love your blogs!