Sunday, October 25, 2009

"The Church of Facebook"

Last Monday, I saw that this book was just published; "The Church of Facebook" by Jesse Rice. I asked Tricia to order it for me (ordering things online is one of my least favorite things to do). It arrived Thursday. I finished it this morning.

Overall opinion of the book: Not my favorite. It was a pretty big let down. If you are a Facebook hater, then you would love it. But, if you, like me, see Facebook's redemptive and endless possibilities for impact, you won't love this book.
  • Rice spends the lion share of the book talking about the negative impact of Facebook on humanity, and vice versa.
  • Contrary to the misleading title, he never discusses anything regarding how Facebook and the church can work together.
  • The majority of the book is really about how Facebook makes the individual relationally inapt.

I am NOT saying that some of his points did not have value. They did. I learned stuff, for sure. And was even convicted a few times. I AM saying that I did not think that he brought a balanced perspective. He basically believes that:
  • Facebook is where people create false pictures of who they are, essentially deceiving others.
  • We are hyper-connected making relationships very weak and meaningless.
  • The rapid fire Facebook updates are negatively forming our communication approach.
  • Friendship=private sharing and growth. Public friendship is an oxymoron.
  • Facebook addiction is leading to CPA (continuous partial attention). This is different from multi-tasking. When we multi-task, we are motivated by a desire to be more efficient and productive. In the case of CPA, we are motivated by a desire not to miss anything.
  • The mix of public and private stuff that is found on Facebook makes things blurry for people more often than they realize.
  • Rice addressed how FB negatively impacts our privacy, authority, romances, jobs, peers, time management, personal identity, and future.
  • The "tethered self" refers to people that are addicted to mobile technology and are "always on." (like me, if I am not careful)
  • The "always on" tendencies prevent us from being fully present in the moment. We can ignore the here and now for the people "out there." Do not ignore "what's new" for "what's now"!

He did have some profound insights as well:

  • The vision of Facebook: to turn Facebook into the planet's standardized communication (and marketing) one worldwide platform where you can just type in anyone's name, find the person you are looking for and communicate with them.
  • In the first quarter of 2009, 5 million people joined Facebook ever week.
  • Facebook's membership doubled in the last year, from 100 million to 200 million.
  • Facebook's founder, Mark Zuckerberg has a vision and not even $15 Billion dollars would deter him.
  • The author makes a compelling case that we are made for connection! But, there is a difference between community and connection. We can find connection on Facebook. Community requires a whole lot of other dynamics that we cannot get on a computer screen.
  • Older population is joining Facebook at massive rates.
  • Beware to never live in response to a thousand imagined voices instead of your own heart.

In a very short period of time (5 years), a very large population (several hundred million and counting) has been synchronized (pulled into the orbit of a single web platform called Facebook). And what kind of gravity is capable of accomplishing such a feat? The human need for home!

Facebook offers a sense of "Home" for many:
  1. Home is where we keep all the stuff that matters most to us. (pictures, videos, beliefs, memories, friends, family, opinions, likes, dislikes...we can decorate our wall however we want)
  2. Home is wherever we find family. (instantly and globally get the family all on one page!)
  3. Home is where we feel safe because we can control the environment. (we can confirm and ignore our way to comfort)
  4. Home is where we can "just be ourselves."

My wife told me to write another book with a similar title to explore the positives of Facebook, to bring balance to this one. I'm tempted.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

The Tower of Babel comes to mind, as well as the verse, "... unless that LORD builds this house ..."

I am not anti-FACEBOOK. I am concerned that there are many factors involved that should be of great concern to Christians. Your blog does well in addressing a number of these concerns.

My major concern has always been our need for face-to-face relationship. A screen is not a face - it can become a false persona that promotes hypocrisy at the expense of true intimacy. The secret solitude of time spent before some screen seems soul-scarring sans some spiritual sustainment from Scripturally sound devotional practice.

It is not good for one to be alone. FACEBOOK fun feels like fellowship, but one would be foolish to let that false feeling substitute one's computer for community.