I’ve been a lot less active online for the last couple of years, and in December 2011 I deleted my Facebook account. I had grown sick of the privacy problems, and Facebook changing their policies and how the application worked without notice or documentation, and I strongly had this perception that they were selling people’s data to third parties.
Unfortunately, Facebook accounts are pretty much required for some things… for instance, we have a Facebook page for our church, and one for work too, and you need an account to manage those pages. So I created a new account, but I was determined not to “friend” people with it, and I also relegated it to a web browser I never use so Facebook couldn’t track my web browsing.
And now my 10 year high school reunion is coming up, which is all organized through a Facebook group. It has me seriously reconsidering my involvement with the social network. Their business practices haven’t changed, and everyone I know continues to hate Facebook while also continuing to use it. But I want to reconnect with some people, and the last year and a half has shown me that it likely won’t happen any other way.
One post in particular jumped out at me. Just earlier this year, I wrote about making and maintaining friendships, and I read again about Courtney messaging people on Facebook to let them know she’s thinking about them. She lets them know she cares about them and that she’s available to talk.
I’ve been conflicted for days about this. It probably seems dumb to you, but I took an ideological stance against Facebook and how they do business, and none of that has changed. So in a sense, it seems wrong and a little hypocritical to rebuild my network there. At the same time, I’m thinking a lot about friendships and relationships and communication…
And I wonder if the end doesn’t justify the means. Maybe Facebook sucks, but isn’t connecting with people more important? It is for April, and as she and I have discussed this, that’s what she comes back to: what’s important to her is being available. She wants it to be easy for people to reach her.
I do too, and I’ve comforted myself by saying that I am easy to find online. Just do a Google search of my name… even if you misspell it, you can probably find me. But I’m beginning to think that is disingenuous. There’s a difference between being easy to track down and being available. And the latter is something that I have to communicate to people. I can’t be passively available. Instead, I need to be reaching out to them and letting them know I’m thinking about them, I care about them, and I’m interested in how they are doing.
If they live on Facebook and I have no other means of reaching them, then maybe that’s where I need to be.