Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929)
When facebook changed its layout the other day, it caused quite a stir. All over my news feed people were crying foul, posting pictures like this one. It all seemed a little over the top to me. I responded by posting a picture that read “I am appalled that the free service that I am in no way obligated to use keeps making changes that mildly inconveniences me.” I’ve been on Facebook since 2008. It has added much to my life. It makes it easier to share pictures of my kids with family. I have reconnected with cherished friends that I would have thought were lost until the next reunion.
It has given me a platform to voice political opinions, informative articles, and to seek out readers for this blog. I have gotten infuriated over other’s rants, and have probably caused others to wonder, “what is that guy’s problem?” I have 468 facebook friends, whom I can now group into distinct lists. Some of the 468 I barely even remember meeting the first time. Some I never really wanted to reconnect with – they just sort of “appeared.” All the while I have scoffed at those that mocked facebook.
All of the complaints against the big blue F seemed silly and uninformed. I had my security settings mastered. I could spot a virus video link a mile away. I changed my password frequently to avoid spammers. Now however, I am starting to have doubts.
Insecurity is starting to creep in. I think it started for me when I watched the movie “Social Network.” No longer was Facebook some anonymous website with a clean logo. It suddenly had a face – with insecurities, faults, and frailties. Are you telling me that Facebook was created because some nerd wanted to impress a girl? This did not bode well. But then I realized that almost everything awesome ever created by a man was probably done to impress a girl.
Yet my fortress of certitude that I had built around facebook started to crumble. When I read about how difficult it is to delete a facebook account, I started to get worried. My fall-back argument to every facebook criticism was always “I could always delete it.” Now I am not so sure. Yes, you can delete your account, but is it ever really deleted? Recently a friend of mine announced he was getting off of facebook. He asked if there was a way to backup what you have stored on FB. It turns out that there is a program to backup everything that you have ever put on FB. Every picture, every comment, every note, every link. EVERYTHING. Which begs the question. If I can back it all up, then where is it all stored?
I’ve read a few interesting articles. Some are pretty alarmist, like this one called “Facebook’s new terms of service: ‘We Can Do Anything We Want With Your Content. Forever” This one is called “Ten Reasons Why You Should Quit Facebook.” Here is another article called “The Web Means The End of Forgetting.” It all seems like an invasion of privacy. It is starting to make me a little squeamish.
Yet it is hard to say they are invading our privacy when everything that we put on facebook is completely voluntary. I know that there is no such thing as privacy on the internet. It is an illusion. I operate understanding that everything I put on faceboook is permanent. This unfortunately, is not an assumption I had for the first couple of years on facebook, but live and learn, right? Then a couple of weeks ago I saw my own cell phone number on my facebook profile. I am positive that I never entered that. How did that happen?
So now I am looking at the new facebook. And I am seeing everything that everyone of my friends does, and I’m starting to think – “Do I need to know that?” Or more importantly, “Do I want all of my friends knowing everything I do on facebook?”
So now this is popping up on people’s statusses.
Please do me a favor and move your mouse over my name here, wait for the box to load and then move your mouse over the “Subscribe” link. Then uncheck the “Comments and Likes”.
I would really rather that my comments on friends and families posts not be made public, Thank You! Then re-post this if you don’t want your every single move posted on the right side in the “Ticker Box” for everyone to see!
I’m posting this not only for myself, but also so that my friends and family will know to ask others to do the same if they would not like their every move on facebook!
Then I read somewhere that this really doesn’t do any good. It is all so confusing. And that is my point. I don’t think any of us really know what is going on.
It seems like things are moving incredibly fast. Laws haven’t caught up. Social mores are being created as we speak. What’s too much on FB? What does it mean to be in community while sitting at a computer? I guess what I’m trying to say is that I no longer see Facebook as a benevolent entity helping people get connected. It is what it is – a multibillion dollar business designed to streamline advertising and gather consumer information. Am I okay with that? If I know that I’m being exploited, is it really exploitation? The problem is I just don’t know.
In five years, what are we going to say about 2011? Are we going to laugh at those that had worries about Facebook the way we now chuckle at those that refuse to buy things on amazon? Am I going to regret photo-documenting my family’s life? Is something I said, did, or posted going to cost me? hurt my family? get me in trouble?
I don’t know. I don’t think any of us do.
I’m not deleting my facebook account. For better or worse, it has become a part of my life. I can’t in good conscious encourage others to join though. But if you are on facebook, do me a favor and “Like” the Fat Pastor. I have 65 fans, and I’d really like to get over 100.
I’ve spent a lot of time the last few nights working improving the connectivity and marketability of this blog. I have accomplished a lot, and am hoping to push The Fat Pastor to new levels of traffic with all the work that I’ve done. Here’s all the new gadgets I’ve been working on:
So there, the Fat Pastor has now reached 2009. I’m proud of the work that I’ve done, and I’m proud of this page. I hope you enjoy, and share it with friends.
Robb (The Fat Pastor)
News spread quickly on cable TV, but I wasn’t near a TV. I was online, hooked up to facebook while I was supposed to be working on something else. Then I read this
D.H. – “This is just sad” with a link to the headline “Congresswoman, 6 others killed by gunman”
M.C. – ” This is terrible!! As I look deeper into the story and some of things that have been done and said leading up to this……It was only a matter of time!!”
I read the story and find out some details. Like a good FBer, I decide to share the headline, with this is my comment: “No need for political commentary now, as it is too early. This is just sad.”
The comments then started to flow as more headlines were posted. At least four other friends posted similar headlines, and the cross-pollination of the comments became confusing. I thought I would share some of the comments that were made within three hours of the first headline being posted:
And finally, my last status update for awhile:
“Robb McCoy wants to cry out to God. Why have you foresaken us? Then I realize, it wasn’t God that left. It was the other way around. I pray for peace to flow through this tragedy. I pray for reconciliation and grace to replace anger and despair. Holy Spirit, work in the lives of those that survive, and speak a new word of life in the face of death.”
So, as a middle-aged man living in rural Illinois, my days are not exactly filled with thrilling adventures. One of the most exciting moments of my day comes when I get on facebook and read the replies to all the witty comments and statusses (stati?) I wrote. Nothing compares, however, to seeing that I have a Friend Request.
Seriously, getting a friend request is the best. It means that someone, somewhere saw my name and picture and thought, “Yeah, I want to be friends with that guy.” The best part is the anticipation of the moment after clicking on the link, but before it is revealed who my new friend is. Could this be some long-lost friend, some dear part of my past that will bring back a flood of memories, somebody I will exchange dozens of emails talking about old times, and possibly even meet for a beer on a coming Friday night? Is it a youth from a church I used to serve, seeking my advice or coming to tell me how I was a positive influence in their life? Or is it some guy I went to grade school with, but have not talked to in 20 years, and was really doing just fine not talking to him.
Right now, I have 319 facebook friends (after reading this, I might have fewer). They can be roughly categorized like this:
“Who?” These are the people that you have to check “mutual friends” to narrow things down a little. This is the guy you had a class with your junior year, but never really talked to. This is the girl that was your roommate’s girlfriend’s friend that came over one time. This is the fraternity brother that was a freshman when you were a senior and you didn’t live in the house, or it might actually be someone’s little brother who you partied with once. Basically, this is the worst friend request. You feel obligated to accept, because ignoring friend requests is just rude, but you haven’t seen this guy in 15 years, and you’re not exactly sure you want him to see pictures of your family. These don’t happen too much. Of my 319 friends, I’d estimate that I didn’t have any idea who about a dozen of them were at first request. I think a couple of them have actually removed me since then. How funny would it be if you got an update everytime someone removed you as a friend. How’d you like to have “Josh Smith has removed you as a friend” on your live feed.
“I remember that guy” These are the people that you once were friends with, but honestly had not thought about this person in years. You were on a team together. You had a few classes together. You worked in the same office for a year or two. You said “hi” to each other in the hall, but you knew nothing personal about the person. The last time you talked, it was when they signed your yearbook, and it said “It was nice knowing you. Have a fun summer. Good luck in college.” And it says “college” because they didn’t know where you were going to school.
This is someone you add because if you bumped into them at Easy Street Pub or the Village Tavern, you would want to be able to look them in the eye. And you have about 30 mutual friends and they might post pictures from HS of friends you had that will make you laugh. You might right on their wall once after becoming friends. You might make a comment or two on their status if you can think of something clever. You do not exchange messages or comment on pictures. You might be in their mafia. Of my 319 friends, I would roughly estimate that 50 of them fall into this category.
“Casual Friends.” This the person that, when you shared something in common, you were pretty good friends. When you were in the same office, or in the same fraternity, or on the same team, you hung out some. You went out after work a few times. You ran in the same circle. But when life changed, you drifted apart. You graduated and went to college. You graduated and got jobs in different cities. You moved. She moved. You have her email, but it ends in .edu, and you doubt it still works. Your first comment after accepting the request is, “It’s great to see you on facebook. We should catch up.” But you don’t. Well, maybe you do a little, but you don’t really say anything more than is already on your profile. “I live in —–, I’ve been married for ——, I work for ——-” That’s about it. I probably have another 100 of these friends.
“Family.” You have to add these people. If you are related in any way, you have to be their friend. Even if you only see them at funerals and weddings. Even if you see them less then that. When a relative – and marriage counts – adds you, you must accept. You will probably get a dozen invitations from them to join “My Family,” or “We’re related” or some stupid application like that. I ignore all of those. Upon becoming friends, your first post was “Hey Aunt —–, so you finally joined Facebook. How’s cousin ——–? Tell Uncle —— I said ‘hi.'”
“Historic Friends” These are the friend requests we are all waiting for. These are the guys that stood up at your wedding. This is the guy that slept over at your house when you were kids. This is the girl that you kind of liked, but never asked out. These are the people we write on their wall, “It’s great to see you on facebook. We should catch up.” And then you actually do with a few exchanged messages, and maybe a chat or two. If they’re not online, you look at the profile and find out if they are a Democrat, or if they turned into an a-hole (I think I just lost a few friends). You check out their pictures, especially the album titled “Old School.” You form a carefully crafted comment on their status, and hope to God that they respond with LOL or a funny emoticon.
“Uncomfortable Friends” These are the friends that you kind of lost on purpose. This is your ex-girlfriend that crushed you, or the one that you crushed. This is the your roommate that stole your CDs, or you stole his. This is the guy you were with when you did that thing that you have been trying to forget for years. You add them, but hope to God they never comment on anything. They don’t.
“Current Aquaintances” – This is the guy you work with. This is the one that you think about before you post a link or tell a joke. This person is the reason you removed the tag of yourself on that picture from college of you and the bra and the boa and the cigarette and the wig and the girl that is definately not your wife (and the garbage can full of “Jungle Juice”). These are people you don’t know that well, but you don’t want them to think you’re a perv or a drunk or a jerk. You know that if post something insensitive or stupid, you are guaranteed to bump into this person at the store or in the hall, and you don’t want to deal with his condescending voice or her Judgy McHolierthanthou look.
“Actual Friends” – These are people you are currently actually friends with. You communicate with them in ways other than facebook. You have actual conversations on the phone or face-to-face. If facebook ceased to exist, your relationship would probably not change much.
These are the main sets – every one of your friends probably fits into one of these categories. There is little overlap. Below are some subsets. People can belong to one, more, or none of these groups. Feel free to add some in the comments section.
The Political Guy: Every status, link and group they invite you to is called either “Obama is an idiot” or “Healthcare reform now”
The Religious Guy: Bible verses for status, groups called “I bet I can find one million people that love Jesus.”
The Networking Guy: Invitations to join his company’s page. Updates regularly about his company.
The Funny Guy: Every status is funny. Subsets of this subset may include Pun Guy, Movie Quote Guy, Deep Thoughts Guy
The Mom: 375 posted pictures of the kids. Status updates are about kids. Groups include “I bet I can find a billion Mommies that love their kids.”
The Drunk College Guy/Girl: 575 pictures of self at various parties, occasionally on boat, sometimes in swimsuit, always with cup.
Blogger Guy: Constantly pushing his website on people. Has 100 networked blogs followers, and thinks he’s a syndicated columnist.