According to market research firm Nielsen Company, Facebook, the popular social networking site, has 350 million total users worldwide who, collectively, spend 10 billion minutes there every day.
There would be 350,000,001 users if I had a Facebook account. But I don’t. And I’m becoming one of the few people I know who have resisted. Why? Ultimately, because I think it’s kind of creepy.
Ten billion minutes are spent every day on Facebook … doing what? Checking in with friends? Check. Giving a personal update on yourself? Check. Posting new photos for people to view? Check.
OK, that part sounds good. But now, let’s make the not-so-great list: Posting things about yourself that stretch the truth, or maybe aren’t true at all, just to get some attention. Harassing or bullying someone electronically or “defriending” someone you decide you don’t like anymore. Searching for an old boyfriend or fling whom you shouldn’t be contacting because you’re in a new relationship or married, but you find them and “friend” them anyway.
And what is this notion of “friending” people? Why are you “friends” with someone on Facebook whom you wouldn’t consider calling on the phone or meeting up with in person?
What happened to nurturing our real, in-person relationships?
How many people spend time at work on Facebook when they should be working? How many students are on Facebook when they should be studying? And how many people spend hours on Facebook instead of paying attention to their partners and children in the next room?
The creepy part of Facebook for me happens when people “friend” people they barely know. You barely know them, yet you can still look at pictures of them and their families, check their status, check out their other Facebook friends, see what music they like and the shows they watch. Then you can click on their friends and their friends’ friends . . . creepy. Voyeurism.
A voyeur, “one who looks, ” has this principle characteristic: The voyeur does not relate directly with the subject he or she is interested in, and that subject is often unaware of being observed, either secretly or from a distance …. umm, kind of like using Facebook? Ok, so not as creepy as a two-way mirror or a hidden camera, but I still think it’s creepy.
Can we, or should we, ever just “defriend” Facebook?
What’s your experience with Facebook–good? bad? mixed bag?
Emily Hansen is director for stewardship and development at Women of the ELCA. Since she can’t be “friended” on Facebook, her colleagues and friends must use the ancient practices of telephone and email.