Our Shrinking Ambivalence About Facebook

am·biv·a·lence (m-bv-lns)
1. The coexistence of opposing attitudes or feelings, such as love and hate, toward a person, object, or idea.
2. Uncertainty or indecisiveness as to which course to follow.

The New Oxford American Dictionary announced its Word of the Year last week. It is the word “unfriend”. It is a verb, not a noun. That is pretty interesting. Apart from our growing knowledge of and fascination with social networking, the word has no meaning, but within that context it is filled with meaning. It means to remove someone as a “friend” on a social networking site, usually facebook. To be unfriended can be very painful. I was unfriended by someone a few months ago. They no longer want to receive my posts or allow me to view theirs. Ouch. But, being the “glass is half-full” type of person, I’ve decided to be happy that many others DO want to be my friend on faceBook and the list is growing. I’m finding old high school friends, friends that I thought I had lost track of because I didn’t send Christmas cards to them for more than two years in a row. I’m even friends with some of my kid’s friends – how cool is that? My point is, however, that the word of the year, pondered over and voted upon, is a social networking term. Are you part of the conversation?

Mention faceBook in a social setting and you will probably receive an interesting array of comments. Current faceBook users seem to be using it more than ever and are convinced that it plays an important part in their social life. Some within that group may confess to a fascination with it bordering on addiction. They find themselves nervous and twitchy if they can’t check faceBook often. About once per minute.

Another camp is represented in the conversation, however, and those campers are people who don’t use faceBook for one of two reasons: 1. They think it is an evil, destructive societal force or 2. they haven’t made up their mind about it yet.

Whatever your leanings, faceBook is becoming hard to ignore. We are using it to share YouTube videos, blogs, websites, photos and ideas. Oh, here is where I insert a shameless plug. Inklings Bookshop has a facebook page. Look us up and join us for booksy conversation. We’d like to get to know you. We use facebook to connect with Grandma (that’s me), the new baby and everyone in between. It links folks across the nation and across the world. Look at these fascinating, up-to-the-minute statistics from the faceBook site:

Company Figures

* More than 350 million active users
* 50% of our active users log on to Facebook in any given day
* More than 35 million users update their status each day
* More than 55 million status updates posted each day
* More than 2.5 billion photos uploaded to the site each month
* More than 3.5 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) shared each week
* More than 3.5 million events created each month
* More than 1.6 million active Pages on Facebook
* More than 700,000 local businesses have active Pages on Facebook
* Pages have created more than 5.3 billion fans

Average User Figures

* Average user has 130 friends on the site
* Average user sends 8 friend requests per month
* Average user spends more than 55 minutes per day on Facebook
* Average user clicks the Like button on 9 pieces of content each month
* Average user writes 25 comments on Facebook content each month
* Average user becomes a fan of 2 Pages each month
* Average user is invited to 3 events per month
* Average user is a member of 12 groups

International Growth

* More than 70 translations available on the site
* About 70% of Facebook users are outside the United States

My own daily use consists of reading the status updates of my children and my friends, both in town and out. I often find a link to something inspirational, something to challenge my thinking or my faith. I am very often moved to a chuckle as the quick wit of my favorite people comes through so well, so pure and quirky, without time for rewrites. I am connected to these people in a new way. I like being connected. I find it a place where I can express my feelings without judgement, ponder my faith “out loud” and share the latest picture of my granddaughter. I can do all these things and be indulged for a few seconds and I can, in turn, happily give my attention to my friends who have posted something new. And I know, if only for a few minutes, that my buddies are ok today. Right now. They can express that they are tired or frustrated, stressed, joyful, confused or whatever and I can just love them for the unique persons they are. I find out about new music, videos and most importantly, books that I never would have heard of otherwise. There is, in fact, a book out called The Church of Facebook. This book is currently 30% off at Inklings.

What do you think? Do you think that faceBook is a valid social connection or a dangerous one? Tell me why you think so, ok? Even if you don’t agree with me I won’t unfriend you, I promise.

Published in: on December 5, 2009 at 10:53 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I like staying connected through whatever means that works for the people I love and care for~~and for some, that means FB. I’m grateful for friends who want to stay in touch! I’m very thankful for you!

  2. We should start a club: people who have been unfriended!

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