03 August 2009

the social networking debate.

Can social networking on the internet or blogging get out of hand and cause more problems than either are worth?

Honestly, I'm not sure.

I used to really enjoy Facebook. It was a way to socialize with people I haven't see in ages, to reconnect with those souls I have longed for over the years. It was a big recipe swap, a craft sharing party, a way to get recommendations for photographers, plumbers, pre-schools (alliteration at its finest). It was fun!

And, now, it is a place where it always seems tense and stressful, the junior high school cafeteria, if you will. I need to be careful about what I say and think. And, the issue is this, I don't post things that are specific to one person. They are generalizations, and my own opinions. Nothing I write is meant to be intentionally hurtful. Agree or disagree, they are what they are. I don't feel like I should have to apologize for the way I feel. Nor, do I expect anyone else to do the same.

Paranoia and the internet don't mix. If someone is going to constantly wonder if what 'Suzie' wrote is about 'Johnny', then the technological social world probably isn't for you. My Facebook 'friend' list comprises mostly of mature, good-natured adults who are always up for banter or grown-up dialogue. I've debated with several of my friends on Facebook over a gamut of subjects ranging from politics, to cloth-diapering, to the best way to make a buttercream frosting. And, it's cool. The beauty to agree to disagree. If someone takes what I say personally, then maybe it's time for a bit of self-reflection, soul searching, and cleansing of a guilty conscience. If you don't like what I write, simply, don't read it.

The computer is cause for a lot of misinterpretations and misconceptions. There is something to be said about hearing someone say something, and reading what someone writes. If the cyber-world does it for you, then this principle needs to be considered at all times. I am not perfect, nor, do I claim to be. Do I love my life? Yes. Am I, generally, a happy, content person? Absolutely. Do I have sad and painful times? For sure. Should I have to be sorry for the life that God has graciously bestowed onto me? I hope not. Do I understand that at any moment this can all change? Of course.

And, I'm definitely not the first or last person who has issue with social networking sites or cyber-communication at large.

Am I the only one who recalls Megan Meier. Her suicide, it's speculated, is a direct result of cyber-bullying. A loss of life over something that could have very likely been solved by simply ignoring cryptic posts and/or comments, or 'hashing' it out face to face, with parent or school involvement.

The Catholic Church in England has it's own position on cyber-socialization, too. Catholic or not, it is pretty profound. “Friendship is not a commodity, friendship is something that is hard work and enduring when it’s right,” the ABC quoted Archbishop Vincent Nichols as saying. “I think there’s a worry that an excessive use, or an almost exclusive use of text and emails means that as a society we’re losing some of the ability to build interpersonal communication that’s necessary for living together and building a community.”

I couldn't agree more.

However, that being said, I enjoy using the computer as a social tool. I take it for what is. I try not to read between the lines, because, more often than not, I may just read it wrong. I love being able to write and journal on my blog. I love being able to express myself to a willing audience. I know there are going to be readers that dislike me. And, all I can say is, whatever. I can dig that. I like Facebook. I'm not gonna lie. My 'friends' make me laugh and inspire me. In both cases, I've formed friendships and connections to people that I never would have gotten to know in the "real" world, and my life is richer for it.

Should I have to give that up because I may have (unintentionally) hurt someone's feelings?

Think about it...

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