Facing off on Facebook
Meridian hit a nerve with JeaNette Goates Smith’s article Why I’m Wary of Facebook. Our inbox is full with your praises and jeers. Meridian’s editorial policy is to explore our culture through an LDS lens, which doesn’t mean that all readers will agree with every writer’s opinion. Yet since we are all boots on the ground here in a society that seizes our attention each day for good or ill, we like to explore pertinent issues. Explore is the operative word here. Our writers use their LDS values to make judgments. You may use your values and come up with a somewhat different take. We learn from each other; sometimes we disagree or see it differently based on our own experience. That’s what discussion is all about.
In issues of doctrine or where the Church has taken a particular stance on an issue, we stand with the Church. In other issues, we assume it is game to explore. With 430 million users worldwide on Facebook now, it has an impact worldwide. This makes Facebook an important topic-not to be ignored. Meridian, itself, has no stance on Facebook. Tomorrow, one of our regular writers may choose to write an article praising Facebook. If it were also of high quality, as JeaNette’s article is, we would publish that too.
The table saw in my shop can be invaluable, but like any power tool it is inherently dangerous, requires extreme care and training, and suits only a few specific tasks. It makes a poor can opener or screw driver..
Facebook is a power tool. It can be invaluable, but like any power tool it is inherently dangerous, requires extreme care and suits only a few specific tasks. It makes a poor substitute for a relationship.
I’m an older grandmother, active church member, Facebook for me has been fun, I have been re-acquainted with many friends that we knew in our ward, moved to other states and I had lost contact with. When the nights are long I can chat with one or two friends that are lonely also. So glad you were able to get the book you needed to read and someone from Facebook was online to see your need and respond, I’m sure it made them feel good as well.
“Everybody who was anybody had a Facebook account.”
I still do not have a Facebook account. I have a web page, a bolg, I can write computer program, and I teach robotics. I have a wife, children, a Ward, professional colleagues, community friends and musician buddies. Why do I need Facebook?
Great Article! I do use Facebook, but not often. My rule with friends is no men. My children cannot be friends with married people and need to stick to their age group. I have found it to be true that women often post things to congratulate themselves. I enjoy the funny antics of their kid stories and enjoy most of what gets posted. The pitfalls are real and one sister who had left the church often posted how much she loved her coffee in the morning…on and on…posting photos of her in bikinis etc. Enough! I defriended her and what a huge fiasco it became because my other siblings had done the same thing. It was a mess and still is. Kudos for telling like it is.
My Two Cents
While I agree that Facebook can cause people to waste a lot of time (not necessarily talking to people but rather playing games), as mentioned it can be a tremendous help in restoring friendships (and not necessarily of the amorous kind).
I disagree with this article because I feel there is good to be found in Facebook when used in moderation. I have gotten to know my grown step daughters through interacting with them on Facebook since we never lived together. There is the option of sending a private email
What You Make It
Sounds like Facebook is a mirror on life. People are no different in life than they are in Facebook. People are sometimes rude and self-centered no matter what the venue. Are you going to remove yourself from life also? Life (and Facebook) is what YOU make of it.
I totally agree. In addition to all you have commented about. The waste of time that it takes to even check on a few books is just that a waste that can be used for other useful, charitable , learning opportunities that are simply missed because everyone is so busy keeping up their sites! Yikes. I am so glad to hear that I am not the only one who feels this way. Thanks for the article.
Reconnecting with Friends
I would have to say that I totally disagree with what you have said. I am LDS, also; I have been married for 32 years to a man I just figured out is autistic- Asperger’s Syndrome. My marital pain was erased when I read about it, but he is not able to create intimate relationships. I live in Provo, and most people here socialize with their families, having little time to give to their friends. None of us use Facebook to brag, to supersede one another, but to share and say hi and encourage one another. Some of these are very close friends and we talk on the phone at times, but we are all very busy, too, doing family history work and other things.
No one has to accept anyone as a friend on Facebook- you make the choice. I have been able to give assistance to very old acquaintances from high school, who were troubled, as a result of Facebook. Sometimes we switch to emails. Sometimes someone with a problem will open up to you on Facebook, as it is less personal.
Teenagers may have it all wrong, in some cases, but I wouldn’t put all of them in that category. My best friend has tons of friends that she encourages and uplifts, including teens. We also support good groups- LDS groups, patriotic groups, and, at first, we took some of the fun tests that they used to have. We put on uplifting you-tubes for others to watch. There are some wonderful LDS people on that site that I have gotten to know for the first time and we discuss interesting things like our favorite books and scriptures. We have become friends because we are LDS. I have supported people who are ill, and it has provided me with some conversation. I don’t use it alot, it seems to go in spurts, but it surely is better than living in a mostly conversationless, relationshipless home. For me, Facebook has been nothing but a positive experience, and it might surprise you that there are some famous LDS people on it, who use it to communicate with family and children.
From one who likes Facebook
Thank you. Somebody finally put into words the reason I quit using Face Book.
I was nauseated by the stupid things people would post. Who cares if you were a little tired today? What happened to calling a friend on the phone or taking a walk with someone?
This is not the only medium by which mothers of children and wives and sons, can “hook-up” with strangers and past friends. My daughter-in-law met a guy on the X-Box about six months ago. A friend of hers asked her if she would like to include him in their players group. Next thing you know, this guy in Jacksonville Florida, is carrying on unappropriate conversations with her and they have a mental and media affair. She has been dreaming about this guy and talking to him on the phone. When my son asked her why she was so distant and then caught her talking to this guy through a web cam on their computer, he told her it was either him or this guy. She chose the guy in Jacksonville, who by the way is also married and has a child.
Through counseling with a good bishop and us, they may save their marriage. Her excuse? She needs some spark back in the marriage. My son works and is going to school full time. They have a one year old son and I remember it was hard sometimes to be alone all day with only a baby to talk to. But somehow a lot of us get through it without resorting to something like this.
The adversary is getting to the most important part of the family. If our young women can’t hold it together how will the family stay in tact?
Thanks for the opportunity to vent,
Wow. Your article was really an eye-opener. This is an attitude toward and aspect of Facebook I had never seen or even considered. I must be really dense.
I can see teenagers or really shallow or insecure people adopting an attitude of “Must Get More Friends!” as well as posting all kinds of inappropriate information. But my teenagers – whom I live with in real life as well as follow their comments on Fb – have never uttered one word along those lines. I have seen a few – very few – uncomfortably intimate posts by a few – very few – people. Mostly they were teenagers, and I just figured other people were more comfortable sharing things like that than I was.
The most annoying thing I’ve found about Fb is all the stupid games people participate in, and then post their every action on Fb. Those types of postings I just skip. The really bad ones I just “hide.”
I don’t see people’s posts as bragging. I see them as just sharing some thought or activity in general, just kind of tossing it out there “in case you were interested.” Some people I comment on, mostly I just read and move on.
I have found Fb to be a wonderful tool to keep a distant contact with extended family and distant friends. It is wonderful to read that a cousin has a son who is going on a mission. (I have no idea how many kids she even has.) Or to get info on an old missionary companion’s kids. Or to find out that another distant cousin has had shoulder surgery and is having a struggle recovering. (She eventually had to have the surgery twice.)
When my aunt died, her children made it a point to tell everyone “Don’t post this on Fb” because one of the kids lived in Washington, and he didn’t want his children finding out Grandma had died on Fb. He and his wife drove home and told them in person. We respected their wishes. (We also repsected their wishes to not photograph their mother in her casket. But that request was actually for the benefit of another aunt who has a rather expanded view of what is acceptable to photograph…)
Also, I don’t have phone numbers for many of my distant relatives. So a posting on Fb actually reaches more people faster than if I called, and more immediately than an obituary printed in the paper days after the fact. Also, it informs people that I might not think to call. And it gives people who have no chance of attending the function a quick, inexpensive, immediate way to express their congratulations or condolences.
I actually have 2 fellow classmates from my high school currently in add-friend limbo. I just don’t know if I want to add them. I don’t believe I ever spoke to them in high school. Why add them now? I’m still thinking about it.
I have to agree that some thought should be given to pictures or info posted on Fb. And I will certainly discuss some of the items you brought up with my children. Like I said, I haven’t seen any of these behaviors with my own friends and family, but I think a word of caution to think before they post wouldn’t be a wasted word. And you certainly provide enough examples to prove that these things are definitely occurring. I have to say, I agree with you. These behaviors are stunning and completely inappropriate. I just wanted you to know that not everyone is experiencing them.
As to how much time I spend on Fb – I actually spend more time reading political news articles. And I have noticed how much time they occupy of my life and have recently decided that the political world is going to have to spiral out of control and into the prophecies of the last days without me. I have important things right here in my own home to attend to. I do logon to Fb multiple times a day because, as I said, I really enjoy getting the little snippets from the lives of people I genuinely care about, but realistically cannot afford to have lengthy conversations with. My Fb time amounts to less than an hour a day, in toto. Probably closer to half an hour.
Thank you for your article. I will pay more attention to the postings in my Fb account.
I read with interest the article by JeaNette Goates Smith regarding Facebook, as I feel she raises some good points, particularly regarding the ‘popularity contests’ on there. However, I feel that Facebook is like anything else on the internet – as good or as bad as you want to make it. If used sensibly, sites like Facebook can be beneficial.
My family and I are all registered on Facebook, including several of my teenage grandchildren. It can be a dangerous place for young peole to hang out, but with 2 grandparents, their own parents and a plethera of aunts and uncles to keep an eye on their activities on the site, it becomes a place where they can safely interact with their friends. When my daughter and her boyfriend became engaged at Christmas, they made sure all their family members knew before they announced the news on Facebook. We put up few pictures, and no details of holidays, outings etc. We never let the general public know what we are up to, if it affects our safety or peace of mind.
I also use the site for keeping up-to-date with SA activities in my area, and what my friends are up to. I rarely go on the site, unless I receive an email to say I have a message, except to share the occasional spiritual feast, such as an article from Meridian I found particularly interesting/uplifting, or the latest Mormon ad on YouTube, or a scripture which ‘hit’ me that day…
It’s also a good place to have a healthy grumble, such as when the dinner is burnt, so that friends and family who live too far away to do it physically can give virtual hugs and support.
Yes, it can be dangerous, and yes, it can be timewasting, if you allow it, but then, so can anything else. Used wisely, it can be a huge asset, too.
Thanks again for another great and thought-provoking article!
Susan Lythgoe, Cumbria, UK
Most of the issues she has described are really not issues with Facebook. They are really issues with the individuals that use Facebook. Like any tool and this she does mention, it can be used for great good or extreme bad. It is all still a matter of our personal choices and attitudes. If a person is prideful and comparative they will be prideful and comparative with or without Facebook. If someone is a liar (the zoo story) they will lie with or without Facebook. If someone is thinking of cheating they thought of it with or without Facebook. It is just a tool.
Thanks for the great insights. I haven’t joined Facebook either, mostly for the exact reasons you describe. Thanks for putting them into words. So much of the garbage we see on the Internet comes from people with too much time on their hands trying to seem important or knowledgeable, when they are neither.
As a friend told me, he came in contact on Facebook with a guy he went to high school with. He responded to him a couple of times but was feeling a bit guilty about not staying more in contact with him. His wife told him, “There must be some reason you didn’t stay in touch with him for 20 years.” We really need to choose our friends wisely, particularly those that are more like “virtual” friends.
Rules for Teens
I enjoyed reading the article by JeaNette Smith about Facebook. She brought up many valid concerns. My biggest concern about Facebook involves teens. I have a teenage daughter with a Facebook account. We agreed to let her have an account as long as she met certain conditions. 1. I was to be her “friend”. 2. I would have access to her account and password. 3. She would put privacy options to their maximum. 4. She would clear with me any photos that were being uploaded. 5. She would only have “friends” that she personally knew (and could tell me how she knew them and all about them). 6. Any friend that behaved inappropriately would be removed from the friend list. Even with these restrictions in place I worry about the amount of time she spends on Facebook. I also worry that her friends parents don’t seem to do much monitoring of their teens online.
Having said all that, Facebook can also be a huge blessing. I am one of the youngest in a very large family. My mother has passed away and my father is completely physically incapacitated and suffering from dementia. Without our parents to gather us the family seems to be less inclined to get together in person. With well over a hundred people spread out in many direction that is difficult at the best of times. Because I am one of the younger children most of my nieces and nephews are married and raising families of their own. Facebook has been a wonderful bonus in my life as I am able to keep contact with them on a much more regular basis. I love the fact that I can reach most of them very quickly, that we can send out family messages and that we can strengthen each other using this tool. I have few “friends” on Facebook outside my family but I would be very sad to miss out on the joy Facebook has brought into my life.
Food for Thought
I must say this article gave me food for thought! I go on Facebook to keep in touch with family and friends, but have cut down the amount of time I spend on it. It is so much nicer to make a phone call or write someone a note. I was totally shocked when I ead a comment of someone making a comment on going to be released from a calling, before it happened. I guess some things aren’t sacred anymore? It is however, great to be able to see videos of my family and grandchildren, but these could just be emailed directly to me I suppose. thank you for the article, JeaNette makes a good valid point.
Someone in Canada
Amen! I am a mother of 9 children and 4 of them have a Facebook page. (One is married and out of the house) I have used their pages a few times to contact my sister and mother, who have a Facebook page, when I am unable to contact them any other way.
I have been hassled countless times about getting a Facebook page of my own, but I really don’t want to. I think it is a waste of time to keep up with what your friends are posting when I can call them and talk to them about their life. And I don’t want to see everything that their friends are posting! It is something I try to keep an eye on with my kids, and ask them often who such-and-such person is that is posting something questionable. We also have deleted some of their friends when we find inappropriate things that they post. We also try to control how often they are on Facebook. But all and all, if I wasn’t extremely involved in keeping up with their usage, it could easily get out of control.
I don’t mind them keeping up with their friends, but don’t know what is wrong with the old-fashoined way of talking on the phone. Or even having them over to visit.
Thank you for your insight and opinions. I was beginning to think I was the only one that felt that way about Facebook.
A Good Missionary Opportunity
1. I have a reasonable number of Facebook friends, and I stay in touch to see where they live, how many kids they have, what’s happening in their lives, etc. In the past, people shared similar information via Christmas cards. Now it just takes place on Facebook or through blogs. I don’t gather friends as a status symbol. Ridiculous!
Misses Larger Point
In a very good attempt to warn people of some of the negatives of using sites like Facebook the author seems to have missed a much larger, and I feel, more important point. The problems that the author describes are not unique to Facebook nor did Facebook cause the problems. People have been rude and discourteous from the dawn of time, just look at Cain and Abel.
I think it would be better for us to focus on raising our children to understand that they need to share important things in their lives with those closest to them first before posting it on the web. If parents spent more time with their children and did not just hand out cell phones and lap top computers with internet access like they were candy perhaps the children would learn that the most important relationships are the ones we have every day with our immediate families, not with the cyber world.
Again, the author lists cheating in the negatives of Facebook. Wouldn’t it be better to teach morality rather than don’t get on Facebook? The gun does not kill people, it is the person holding the gun that is the problem yet in our society today we place blame on the object rather than the person using the object. You don’t get rid of cars because people drive drunk, you teach people of the dangers of driving while intoxicated. This author is merely perpetuating the incorrect thinking of today that it is not the person’s fault but society’s, or in this case the online tool of Facebook. We need to get back to personal accountability and responsibility. Facebook, like any other object, is neither good nor evil. It is totally dependent on the nature of the person using it as to the outcome.
Like the Prophet Joseph said “Teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves.” I think if we are teaching the principles of kindness, thoughtfulness, morality, and family then these issues will diminish. Good warning, wrong focus.
Wonderful article and I agree with everything you said. But, what about the viruses, Trojan Horses and worms that a person could pick up through Facebook?
Everytime I have clicked on an invitation, I get all sorts of security alerts. Nope, it is not worth it to me.
Good down to earth article.
Nora Nell Thompson
I read the article “Why I’m Wary of Facebook” and I can understand your frustration and surprise or argument, but I have to disagree that it’s that bad. I am in my 40’s and I use Facebook to connect with my family members and find people I haven’t seen in some time. Yes, there are those who use it in a good way.
Thank you, thank you for this excellent article. I agree whole heartedly with everything you talked about in your article. We have a family of 11 children (all married) and 40 grandchildren (some married) and before Face Book we had a family website that was a great place for all of us to communicate and post pictures, share recipes and ideas for books to read or movies to see.
Enter Face Book and slow but sure everyone quit posting to our family website. I cancelled it because it wasn’t worth $110 a year if no one was using it. I had to join FB if I wanted to know what was going on in the lives of our family members and to see pictures of grandkids, engagement photos, etc.
Divorce also raised it’s ugly head in our family and we feel that FB played a part in that. A daughter-in-law divorced our son after 14 yrs. of marriage and 4 children ages 9 to 13. She is now in a “relationship” on FB with a third grade boy friend. Having been in YW leadership for many years I think your article should be a “lesson” for all the youth and probably for some of the sisters in Relief Society. I shake my head in amusement when I read a post by a young mom who is tired and can’t find time to get housework done or play with children but they will spend “hours” on Face Book. I think FB is a plague of the latter days.