Wednesday, 17 June 2009

facebook questions

So, the serious and frivolous, leading and rhetorical, genuine and hypothetical


What is the difference between you and the you visible on facebook?
How are you selective in your representation? Why?
Which photos don’t you upload?

In the information you upload what are you communicating?
What are you selling?
What are you proving and to whom?

What are you on facebook for?
What is the nature of its pleasure?
What is the nature of its service to you?
If for convenience and efficiency, how are you spending the time saved?

What needs does facebook fulfil that Christ doesn't?
When does a good gift become a substitute saviour?

Would you want facebook to display the number of hours and minutes you were logged on each day?
Would you be uncomfortable if the mirrored glass that lets no one know you viewed their profile was removed?

Can you preach the gospel on facebook?
Is there a sufficient ‘plausibility structure’ to assert any truth claim?
(‘plausibility structure’ - Peter Berger via Michael Ramsden, also used of L’Abri)

Can you demonstrate by your life online that Jesus’ resurrection is intellectually credible and existentially satisfying?
Why this is hard in a virtual world?

Can people see that you are flawed and need a saviour in a world where you can atone for your own sins, erase your own history, renew your own identity?

Does your profile point to Christ?
Could it?

Why do I look at people’s photos?
What is it doing for me?

Why am I choosing to view these photos of a friends holiday, on my own, in a darkened room?
Have we forgotten better ways of doing these?
How might it be otherwise?
How can I make an experience of sharing more real, more weighty?

What do I fear in life, what do I hide from?
From what am I escaping?
For what do I compensating for and exaggerate?

Why is there so much irony on facebook?
Why do people love to hate it?
Why do use metaphors of facebook-stalking, facebook-rape, and of pimping one’s profile?

Why is it so hard to leave?

Are you comforted by words of condolence on facebook?
Can you express empathy online?

Would you invite people to your wedding via facebook?
Would you propose marriage on facebook?

What is the measure of an idol?

What is the measure of an addiction?
What category do you consider facebook in - that of oxygen and necessities, that of household cleaning and chores, that of foreign holidays and luxuries?

What is the model we read the discourse of facebook through?

What is the motivating force for the facebook providers?
How is facebook free?
How are you paying for the service?
Do you count that cost before building?

Why did Jesus come at a time in history before facebook?

Have you hugged someone today?
Have you plunged your fingers into soil today?
Have you loved your next-door-neighbour this week?


Julia said...

..many thoughts on these posts of yours. this is GOOD.

also, how is different from FaceBook?

& does living in an Information Age give us the right to "know" anyone who gives us access to their FB? i think not. but we seem to take it & make it so. it is but a step away from "ownership", but we of the 21st Century would never use that language when describing a "relationship" we have with another human being. what gives us the right to take that which is not ours?

rights, privilages, all taken for-granted & abused even.

another thing that bothers me when i think about leaving: FB never actually closes your profile. it will always be there, waiting..

Liz said...

Phil, ever since your declaration of intent to leave I've been thinking about this.

Yes. I spend far too much time on it. I know far too much about far too many people. It encourages dormant stalker-like tendencies (I blame that on my researcher skills!). I collect friends in a way that almost makes them trophies, or at least a competition with my sister!

Earlier this year a very close friend died, I'd lost touch with her & blame that partly on the fact that she was of a non-facebook generation, so contact wasn't so 'easy'. I resolved not to get that complacent again.

But, there are friends I would never have re-discovered without it and friendships that have been sustained (despite physical distance) thanks to it.

Perhaps we all need to read these questions and mull them over in our own hearts, realising what touches a chord for us, what we need to change...

I'm not so bothered about the privacy thing, more about how we want others to perceive us. The sanitised 'me' I create. How I don't even feed my blog through it because I didn't want certain people to read it... And I wasn't even totally aware I was doing it!

Many thoughts on this subject. Will have to mull over them for a while...

Chica said...

I concur with Eliza.

And yet I maintain... you should get out more. Get the sun on your face and the American out of your voice.

And lest we forget, part of my job involves trying to find ways to bring social networking into the workplace - and in point of fact must spend some time tomorrow working on a functionality comparison for various social networking sites.

Girl at the Mirror said...

Thank you for your questions, friend, and for your courage. Wendell would be proud. :) That said, I just want to say another thing or two:
1. I'm so glad you have a blog! Sometimes I get lonely...
2. I will keep you updated on the L'abri reunion. When the event is over I hope to jump the good ship facebook myself.
3. Check out It's about making things by hand. And the upcoming edition (out on Friday, I believe) is about facebook.
4. When I was at L'abri, I almost never went on facebook and never gave it a second thought. Community is lurking behind much of this methinks...

Mary Frances said...

I think these questions that you ask are key - what if facebook logged and posted the number of minutes/hours we spend on the site and what if it was possible for people to know when we viewed their page. i think that would bring some big changes, the largest of which is accountability which is a big missing piece...

Anonymous said...

Goodness me, PJ.

I admire and raise a cordial eyebrow to your decision to forsake facebook; I certainly wasn't aware that the sprawling network of profiles and photos was a significant enough factor to warrant such extensive and heartfelt discussion. Many of the Chinese I know maintain three or four such sites simulatenously, such as Xiaonei, blog on MSN and still find time to have a social life and lead a life of religious fulfilment and righteousness (etc).
Facebook is what you make of it. Tool or electronic crutch, exhibition centre or procrastination device, gospel of love or of ignorance, a window in or a mirror back. For many, it's a address book with pictures.
Facebook is not inherently good or bad, and takes nothing which is not given freely- your admirable decision will be discussed by some, commented on by many, and ignored by the multitude. As indeed will most our lives.
Lofty, angst-ridden discussion on perception and self image in such a context are curiously futile.

Perhaps you should engage in more hobbies, as has been previously suggested by Chica: I suggest
1) Making your own selice
2) Baking cookies
3) Heartfelt pompous discussions of great unsolveable problems to the backdrop of Jaffa cakes and milk.
4) Real, grass-roots, charity work
5) Writing a romantic epic about a one-eyed astronaut called Lindsay.

(But not in that order of significance)

Rachel Bush said...

Phil, you should post this quiz on FaceBook.

I'm sitting across the table from Rob Bell today at the coffee shop. Wish you were here. (this would be posted on your Wall... if you had one.)

postJazz said...

My response got too long for a comment, really, so it's here. It mostly walks along similar lines as others here describe. I think your position is understandable, but I also think that you miss some of the subtleties that people are capable of in this discussion here. My personal feeling is that many people probably spend more actual time with people they're friends with on facebook than they might have done before, just because it's such a useful place to arrange stuff etc...

Anonymous said...

Thinking of you and a couple of weeks AG, I am going to venture to making a public note about your post with an underlying flavour of nostalgia of long talks of political/philosophical/theologicalmatter (isn't it all one and the same...?) is my query with haiku aspirations...Does Christopher alexander, tha dalai lama, or the farmer in mid wales have facebook? and whatever the answer... Does it matter?