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Photography by Bethany Williams

A panic attack ensued when I saw that I had over 100 friends on Facebook.  How was I supposed to keep track of everything?  Wouldn’t my brain explode with all that information scrolling down the “wall,” which I absorbed into my being?  Wishing over 100 people “Happy Birthday” would take up so much time!!!  How would I respond to all that these wonderful people had to say?  Would this count toward my weekly word quota?

That week, I felt overwhelmed.  Maybe I should only include friends with whom I currently have physically-present interactions, also conversing at least on a monthly basis.  But there are many extended family members with whom I don’t converse on a regular basis at all.  I want some kind of interaction with them, of course.   I also felt a necessity to check in as often as possible, just to keep up with what details were being shared, or else I would be left way behind. Not knowing the context of everything going on would throw off the linear working of things.  How does God do it? 

Facebook is the primo way to keep in touch without actually having to touch.  I don’t even have to have  a conversation with these people.  Why must I like and/or respond to anything anyone says on there?  I don’t want any of my dear friends to feel ignored or alone.  So I resorted to “like“-ing all the likable statements.  That took the pressure off.

Then I spoke with some friends, and one of them commented on how he received a message (I still am not sure if they received it from face-to-face interaction or a note on Facebook) degrading his efforts to respond to everything that circle of friends said on Facebook, and he then stopped responding.

My friend number continued to grow.

At almost 200 friends, I had another anxiety reaction.  Too much!!!  Then, after hearing several opinions in regard to Facebook culture, I decided that my interaction was not necessarily necessary.  It was not my responsibility to make sure others knew they were “heard.”  I especially am sick of hearing that I am always on there, especially from folks not even on my friend list.
New Dancing Moon IV by Reven Marie Swanson * Photograph by Bethany Williams

So when I surpassed 300 friends, I finally had acquired some nuance about internet social networking.  Early on I had determined that Facebook is just a tool, not to be confused with the God-given need to personally interact and love one another.

A great tool for submitting prayer requests and announcements to those not in my inner-circle, tiny as that might be.  Posting scripture and quotes which inspire, encourage and provoke positive thoughts, is a fun way in which to use this tool.  Oh, and one of my favorite uses is posting YouTube music and funny instances that might put a smile on at least one of my precious friend’s faces.  What other things are Facebook, and other social networking avenues good for?

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