Life, Death and Facebook

From Joe Simmons, S.J., over at The Jesuit Post:

Is Facebook dying?  If it died, would you miss it?

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I asked my students these questions a few weeks ago in class, after I read the piece “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” by Stephen Marche in the May issue of The Atlantic.  (Tim O’Brien beat me to the punch on it by writing this excellent piece a week or so ago.)

The Leaders of Tomorrow who occupy the desks in my classroom responded that Facebook “is lame and no one uses it anymore.”  This surprised me, since I know most of them have active accounts, as do most of my contemporaries.

But not all of my contemporaries.

We all know those few outliers who never got pulled in by the Facebook tractor beam.  One such outlier is a college roommate of mine, Jordan.  Jordan is the kind of person who switches from a strict vegetarian diet to one best described as “flagrantly carnivorous” just to go against the grain (I trust you’ll pardon the pun).  Given his personality I initially guessed that his Facebook-free lifestyle was just one more star in his constellation Contrarius.

Yet – and here’s the interesting part – Jordan is one of the happiest, most grounded guys I know.  He’s also the kind of person who travels from city to city helping to establish Ignatian retreats for the homeless with the Ignatian Spirituality Project.  Based in Chicago and working all over the country, constantly meeting new people and trying to stay in touch with others, it seems like Jordan should be connected on Facebook.  Or, at the very least, he should use Facebook to get the word out about his important ministry.  Right?

That’s the reason I use to keep a Facebook profile going.  “Well, I’ve got to publicize TJP.  I’ve gotta stay connected” I say.  Or, “how can I leave a comment on Matt Dunch’s latest musings or like Michael Rossmann’s latest piece?”

But the reality is, most of my Facebook time is not spend productively.  I’d even go so far as to wager that most of the world’s Facebook time is spent negotiating the insecurities that plague us as humans.

Read the rest here.

Tim Reidy

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Thomas Rooney OFS
6 years ago
While Facebook itself might be a fad, the whole social network/instant communication idea is not.  It's here to stay, IMO.

The first social network I signed up to was Myspace.  Creating a ready-made webpage highlighting everything that is important to me and my life was mighty attractive.  There was a definitive "time-suck" there...fashioning the background just so, putting up my favorite picture of me and my family. becoming thrilled when an old friend not heard from in years would "friend" me. 

I was very resistant to Facebook when it challenged and eventually far surpassed Myspace.  No real bells and whistles, no theme sopng on the profile, pertinent "about me" info hidden by a tab.  However as more and more of the people I wanted to keep in contact with were abandoning MS for FB, I gfelt I had no choice but to switch.  I don't think I've checked my MS account in over a year.  I doubt there is mych activity there.

FB has the potential, and in many cases does, isolate people, no matter how many "friends" are on their list.  This will happen whne it is used as a SUBSTITUTE rather than an enhancement of actual friendships and relationships.  FB can also be a powerful connectivity tool that, in my case, has ignited many real-time reunions with old friends...something I am certain would not have happened if social networking did not exist.

Will FB be the be-all end-all?  Doubtful.  The monolithic "They" said that about vinyl records at one time. 
J Cosgrove
6 years ago
I personally know very little about Facebook but I am about to open up an account if I can for my business.  I have no interest in the personal aspects of it which frankly scare me a little.  There is too much openess and there is too much ease to express your self in ways that one might regret later. But then again I haven't used it so I could be just uninformed.  


All my children use it but my daughter said she is using it less and less.  She said it is a ''time suck'' and she hasn't enough of that now and probably wont for a lot of years.  She much rather get out than spend time on her computer.  Too much to do.  


But I will soon see just how useful it is since that is where a lot of people are and they are potentially my customers. 
John Barbieri
6 years ago
Wait and see.
Facebook is just a fad.
It will pass. 
Mary Sweeney
6 years ago
I think that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that we have a failure of imagination and do not fully utilize the power of Facebook. I have written on this topic on two occasions - on Facebook:)

https://www.facebook.com/#!/note.php?note_id=434171956594694

https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=434171956594694#!/note.php?note_id=317072261637998

I am a metaphor person as I feel metaphor can help us to see similarities we might otherwise miss.

One of the advantages of Social Media is that the connections are built in. If one is in business or a non-profit and confines onself to using a website, one is choosing to rely on someone coming to the site. It is rather like sitting in a wheelchair and hoping someone will come over to talk. Facebook allows one the opportunity to effortlessly connect, reach out. As Jesus said, "Stand up and walk." This does presume that the encounter will include something of importance to say.

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