27 May 2009

Connections and Community

I love Facebook, mostly for one reason: connections.

At the present I have over 700 friends from all sorts of different times and places in my life. My two best friends from high school are there. The guy with whom I share a brain is there. My 'little sister' is there. One of my best friends from seminary recently joined up. People I haven't seen face to face since elementary school are there. Music Camp friends. College Band friends. Family, of course, is there. One big happy mess of connections.

But is it community? I'm not certain. Actually, I'm of several minds on the subject.

On the one hand, the FB community allows me to keep up on who's sick, who's getting better, who's losing family, who's getting divorced, who's getting married, all of that stuff and more. I've discovered news that is important to me and to my friends because status updates can be a really useful way to get news out quickly. One friend who lives in South Korea at the moment had a prayer chain up and running within hours of the recent nuclear insanity on the part of North Korea. I truly believe these things are important.

On the other hand, some of these 'friends' are surface relationships at best, people with whom I have fleeting connections or, even worse, folks I just don't have the heart to turn down. I'm sure several of my FB friends felt the same way when I sent my request to them. Let's face it: as much as I treasured the company of X, Y and Z at music camp 17 years ago, we haven't heard from each other in all the years since - can you really call that a 'friendship?'

Jan E recently wrote about Twitter and what it can and can't do. I guess I feel the same way about FB (and no, I'm just not gonna tweet - it's not my thing): where it helps, great, but let's not mistake it for the real thing. Some FB relationships are an acknowledgement of a shared past - others are the signs of a hoped-for future friendship (I would put most of my blogging friends in that category): what really matters is the time we're willing and able to invest in each other in real, concrete terms.

We have a Lutheran Campus Ministry Facebook group, but, more importantly, we have Lutheran Campus Ministry. They are not equivalent - one is a tool to serve the other, and that's something for all of us to keep in mind.

Grace & peace,


  1. I see facebook groups based on real world groups as an extension of the group that allows rapid communication to occur, enriching the real world. It should not serve as a replacement for real world contact but it can supplement it. For example I can stay in contact with a friend who is out of the country right now and etc...

  2. Hi Scott. I struggle with this topic a lot, partially as a technologist, partially as a Christian, and partially as a human. I'm not sure exactly what I think about all of this yet.

    I agree with the previous comment that as an extension of the real world, it is very useful. I've also seen some good stuff for people who are exceedingly shy or for friends who are very remote.

    But one thing I've learned is that it must all be in balance & moderation. As with everything in life, if you overdose on one thing, its not good. FB and Twitter can become "drugs" for some.