Thursday, December 11, 2008


A couple years ago I joined the Internet social-networking site known as Facebook. I am employed as a youth minister at a church in Nashville and Facebook was a fun, easy-to-access vehicle with which to communicate, share news, post photos and introduce new ideas. In the past 6 months it has become a political dumpsite, a billboard for social action groups and a repository of bad music. I should not be surprised; our society is incapable of allowing innocence to flourish. One of the fascinating components of Facebook is the manner in which one goes about adding ‘friends’ to your account. It is a powerful exercise in discernment. When one signs onto their Facebook account they often encounter a notification indicating that someone has sent a ‘Friend Request.’ Typically, you will know the person (like 75 high school kids from your church youth group.) But occasionally these requests arrive from strangers or individuals you know only marginally. The first year I was a member I simply befriended everyone who wished to be my friend. It seemed the right thing to do. Then, many of these people began posting really bad music, videos of their dogs, radical political commentary, links for their commercial web sites, boring blogs, endless Obama promotions, ultra-liberal religious views, hypes for their CD’s, announcements for smalltime gigs, photos from their high school proms (from 1971) and other hideously unnecessary and aggravating crap. To paraphrase Sheryl Crow, ‘All I wanted to do was have some fun,’ and now I was sloshing around in the dark squalor of reality. And here I was, trying to be a hip youth minister (at the age of 55) and these young, impressionable kids that often went to my Facebook page were being confronted with the raging angst of my rudderless peers: ‘Abortion is a human right, Jesus probably had an affair with Magdalene, Bush is Satan, God is dead, America is the evil empire, Come to my show at 12th & Porter.’ I posted some comments that refuted these postures and only heard back from those who considered me Atilla the Hun and one person suggested that I should not be allowed around young people. I am working with Facebook to write some code in which members can post: You have an ‘I Don’t Want to Be Your Friend Anymore Request.’ Unlike me, I think it will be very popular.


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