We, Mark and I, joined Facebook in July 2007. All of our young adults were using Facebook to connect so I made the decision that we should jump in and become part of the trend. I had no idea how it worked or what I was supposed to post about. I had started my blog, quietly and privately in March of the same year…again not really sure what I would write about or why. But I was in the social media world making a splash, or at least treading some water.
Facebook became the social connecting place for our ministry. We quickly found twenty-somethings “friending” us. Early on I remember a young man, who happened to be about Katy’s age, letting us know that we were “too old for Facebook”. Whatever…I was un-scathed by his snark and continued diving into the world of social media.
My blog following grew, and for a short time I was connected with some of the “big mommy bloggers”, being referenced by them and with “ping backs” from a few. I can’t even believe I just wrote that, but it’s the truth.
When me moved to Michigan I would check Facebook to hold some sense of connection to our friends and the world that we’d left behind. Peering into their happenings, to their lives and some days wishing I was still there.
As our kids grew we stayed connected to them via Facebook. They’d post photographs and type status updates. I loved the window into their worlds.
And, somewhere we began to have friend requests from “friends of friends” and people who’d met us at a seminar or heard about us from someone they knew. “accept”….”accept”….”accept”.
Twitter was next and then Instagram.
My social media “advisors” said I should be on twitter and on Instagram.
I hate twitter. I don’t even really get it. Seriously.
At any rate the question that has been rolling around inside of me for a while is centered on the idea of “friends” and what is a friend?
Webster says that a friend is “a person you like and enjoy being with”.
Is there such a thing as a category of friend that is prefaced with the word Facebook?
Here’s the thing, it all just happens for many of us, for others who are more introspective and introverted there is a caution about Facebook friending.
I’ve thought about our Facebook friends many times, scrolling through and noticing names that didn’t feel familiar, clicking on “mutual friends” to try to create some context for how we had come to be “friends”.
This year our life has taken some unexpected detours. Detours that took us from fun and magical spaces to hard, intimate, not exactly what you want to share with the world kind of spaces.
And, recently I listened to someone teach on the dangers of social media and the risks associated with putting yourself out there for the masses to consume you.
It hit home in a way that felt new and came with a strong invitation to do something different.
On a Saturday morning, cool and rainy, I sat on my three seasons porch drinking my Costco french roast coffee as I contemplated Facebook.
What had once been fun and carefree, posting for people who I saw weekly at church or in the car pool lane at school had become about something I couldn’t really wrap my brain around.
Mark joined me on the porch with his coffee and said, “what are you doing?”. I explained my thoughts and feelings and he concurred. We sat side by side and went through the names together, and made the difficult decision to change our Facebook. It was in some sense the end of an era. For over a decade we have been known for our open home, our expansive hugs, our welcoming spirits and a trademark openness with our life. The way we are has nurtured goodness, connection, hope and a sense of family for those who we welcomed into our circle.
And, change has come. Our life has changed and as we sat holding that reality and what all has changed within us we knew it was time to make our Facebook something more private, and in that to let the word “friend” stand apart from the word Facebook.
I am not completely sure what will unfold in the days ahead as we live into this change. Who we are, the goodness of it with all the welcoming and warm, expansive hugs must remain. And, we must also honor that the word “friend” is a sacred trust, not to defined by the precursing word “Facebook”.
For our friends I am deeply grateful, they have been one of God’s sweetest blessings to me and that stands apart from the word Facebook.
Tracy Johnson is a lover of stories and a reluctant dreamer, living by faith that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick but when dreams come true there is a life and joy” (Pro. 13:12). She is the Founder of Red Tent Living. Married for 28 years, she is mother to five kids. After a half century of life, she’s feeling like she may know who she is.