I almost never request friends on facebook. It's not that I'm snobby. I figure if I know you and you are a part of my life and you actually have a facebook page, we are already friends or family. If I am not currently your friend on facebook either you don’t have one, (at least that I am aware of) or we are really not all that close in relationship. In contrast to me, Mike requests friends all the time even though he already has a lot of good friends and a full life.
Our conversation turned to the issue of people who we might be on awkward terms with who have requested us as friends on facebook. We both noticed this happening with ourselves and others we know. As an example, one person we both know circulated a petition against me years ago and recently requested me as a friend on facebook. Mike found it as odd as I did that they requested to be my friend. I would be a little uncomfortable to run into this person in “real life” although I don't harbor any bad feelings for them. We’d both probably just be anxious trying to figure out what in the world to say to each other if we both found ourselves standing in line together at a Starbucks, but on a social networking site they found it perfectly natural to ask me to be their friend. It leads me to believe that perhaps Rosie O’Donnell may even request Donald Trump or Elizabeth Hasselbeck as her friend on facebook. Why not? By some indications it appears that according to facebook protocol, the devil may even friend request Jesus sometime soon. I’ve learned that people who probably would never invite you into their home or choose to call you on the phone will ask to be your facebook friend. I’ve asked a lot of friends about this and every one of them have told me they have at least a few people who have friend requested them that they thought hated them.
Now by this observation I'm not advocating unforgiveness or bitterness. I fully believe we need to be careful not to be resentful. However, I also believe the fact that we might feel awkward around someone is different than harboring ill will. At this point in my life I hold no malice toward anyone in my life however if a certain people suddenly walked up to me, I think we’d both be racking our brains thinking what in the world to say.
My friend Mike believes folks like this are “reaching out for healing”. He believes they are using facebook as a tool of reconciliation. Perhaps. That has given me food for thought. And if they are, well then I think that’s great. Facebook might be a great uniting factor for some.
Other thoughts I’ve had about it:
Social networking sites help us to become closer to people we are already close to. It’s a very user friendly way to stay connected in just a few words a day or week, and the perfect place to share photos with those who are in our circle of friends and family. I love this aspect of it!
Second, it's a great tool for pastors and church leaders to stay in touch. I’ve heard countless others say the same thing. Facebook is a great way to update your congregation, and stay connected one on one or as a group. It's fun to leave encouraging message for friends, and remind people of events. I love it for that too.
But...what’s different about facebook that connects people that would never walk up to each other in a mall or go out to dinner with?
I’m not sure. Maybe Mike is right. Maybe some people are reaching out for healing. If so it’s admirable. Mike also says they might not be reaching out for healing at all, they may just be incredibly nosy and unless they become your friend on facebook they can’t read your page and talk about you even more all these years later. They have to get access to your page to have new fodder for their gossip especially if you have no other connection to them currently. And to that I say, man oh day, where do people find the time? Does anybody besides conservatives still work jobs? (lol)