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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Facebook: Friend or Foe?

I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. On one hand it is an excellent way to stay in touch with people, keep up to date on their lives and vise versa. It's a wonderful way to let lots of people know all at once about things going on in your life.

It can also be quite addicting and suck up alot of valuable time! I hate to admit that at 40 something years old I am as addicted to the site as many teens I know. I find myself constantly checking in to see the latest updates or see who responded to an update of mine and it just sucks up far too much valuable time out of my homeschooling day. That's probably my own issue as I know many who exercise great self control when it comes to Facebook and Internet usage in general.

While it's a great way to stay in touch with others, like email where you can't see someones facial expressions or hear the tone of their voice, things can easily be misunderstood. I have personally experienced this at least once. You can also end up learning far more about friends or family than you ever really wanted to know. Many post things on there that may surprise you, and perhaps make you think differently of a person than you previously had.

Also, as we recently discovered, you may find out what people think of YOU! I guess not knowing we had mutual friends, some friends of the family had posted some things on another friends Facebook page saying very different things about the choices our son made to join the military than what they had said just days before to our very faces. Needless to say this led to some seriously hurt feelings and even anger.

So, I sit here pondering my existence on the site. I doubt I will delete my account, there are too many advantages, such as a quick easy way to send out a prayer request or life update quickly to several people at once, or an easy way to stay in touch with adult children living out of state and other friends and family members. I do suppose that I will slowly start to frequent it less and less often though.

The time I allow it to suck is a big issue, but so is the fact that I feel it keeps me from developing real relationships with people. Perhaps if I had spent half as much time in real life, in person with some of my Facebook "friends" I would have known their true thoughts and feelings and not have had to find out in the hurtful way I did on a public forum.

Many have hundreds and hundreds of friends on Facebook. It's like a trophy I guess to collect lots of friends, but how many of them would you really want to spend time with in the real world? How much of what you share on Facebook would you stand up in church and announce or in any other public place?

Like any other form of technology, Facebook can be a valuable tool if respected for what it is, just that, a tool. When it starts to consume too much of your time and even your thoughts when your away from it for a period of time, you know it's time to re-evaluate it a bit. I think it's about that time for me!

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