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Facebook for Oregonians

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Just helping a brother figure out Facebook.

Josh Harris needs help with Facebook. In fact, he has resorted to begging for friends. It’s kind of sad, really. So I thought I would try to help a friend out with this Facebook Survey.

Now Facebook is kind of a neat phenomenon. I’m not convinced it has much lasting value but for now it’s kind of a fun way of connecting with friends, and especially long-forgotten friends. The problem I’ve found is that once you connect with these people by becoming their “Friend” there isn’t a whole lot left to do. Facebook is, in my experience, more fun than useful; more entertaining than beneficial. But maybe I just haven’t quite figured it all out yet. Nevertheless, here are the answers to Josh’s questions.

1. How many times a day do you check your Facebook account?

I don’t check it more than once most days unless I receive an interesting-looking notification or if I want to post a note. I don’t find there is a lot of reason to visit it otherwise. But maybe that’s just me.

2. What do you do when someone you don’t know wants to be your friend? This hasn’t happened to me yet but it might, and I was homeschooled so I’m not sure what I’ll do.

I suggest doing the same thing as when you receive an email you don’t want to reply to. Ignore it and hope the situation goes away! That said, I don’t think I’ve rejected any friend requests yet. Basically you have two options when you start using Facebook–either accept only friends who are really friends in a more traditional sense of the word (and then be prepared to reject a lot of invites) or widen the definition of friend to “anyone who asks.” I think this is what most people do. The concept of “friend” doesn’t have a lot of meaning in a Facebook context.

3. What’s the most useful thing about Facebook?

I’m still trying to figure this out. But I think it’s probably in allowing you to find long-lost friends and to have a way of keeping in touch with them. I think Facebook has more value to people who do not have a blog than to those who do. If you are already involved in some kind of Web 2.0 media such as a blog, you may find that Facebook doesn’t offer a whole lot of value that the blog doesn’t.

4. Are there any really cool add-ons that I should know about?

Not that I’ve found. I am quite convinced that every Facebook application is a complete and utter waste of time. You know, unless you like to make believe that you’re a pirate or you like to pretend to throw pretend food at people (and actually, in Oregon that may just be considered fun!).

5. Does your church use Facebook to build “community” online? Give examples. I found out my church already has a group. I’m curious what other churches are doing.

Our church has a Facebook group and every person who goes to the church and has a Facebook account is a member of that group. But that’s about it. I don’t think that’s the same thing as building community, is it?

6. Is it true that some people have dumped email and mostly use Facebook to communicate?

I doubt it. I don’t think that would be very smart.

7. How do respond when someone posts on your wall? Do you post on their wall, on your own? I’m not clear on this.

The wall is a really bad way to communicate. it isn’t quite the equivalent of a blog where comments are ordered in an obvious way and it’s also not the equivalent of a forum which offers threaded discussion. So I avoid writing on walls. Walls may be one of the worst ways of communicating online ever invented.

8. I joined a group for Humble Orthodoxy and New Attitude. I also considered joining a group called “Josh Harris Ruined My Dating Life” but I was afraid I would spoil the fun they were having. But, boy, could I give them scoop on what a jerk I am. Any other groups I should think about joining?

Probably not. It seems to me that the vast majority of groups serve absolutely no purpose whatsoever. This is especially true of the group called “Tim Challies Needs a Day Off.” Lots of groups have cool or funny names or are organized around good topics, but I haven’t found much interesting discussion.

9. A more serious question: Are there any unique spiritual pitfalls or temptations that you’ve encountered on Facebook? How have you responded?

Not so far. But if something comes along, knowing my track record, I’m sure I’ll respond wrong the first time, then try to correct it and do better the second time!

10. What does it mean to “poke” someone. How does that work?

You press the “Poke” button and the next time that person log on to Facebook he’ll receive a message saying that you poked him. I think you also allow him to see your account for a few days when you poke him. Now trust me when I say this because I’ve tried: it’s a LOT more fun to just poke a person in real life. So rather than poking the person in Facebook, walk up to him in church, ram your finger into his rib cage and say “Poke!” There are some things Facebook just can’t simulate well. This is one of them.

11. Why do so many girls use a picture of themselves that includes three other friends? Is this like visiting the ladies room in herds? Is this something I’ll never understand as a man?

You’ll never understand. I’m pretty sure this is a post-Fall behavior and one we men folk will never really understand. It’s kind of like the “Ooo…let’s all go and try on our dresses and brush each other’s hair and tell each other how pretty we look!” behavior. It’s almost as incomprehensible as the rules for cricket. I’ve long since given up even trying.

I hope that helps some. But it probably doesn’t much…

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