A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to My Online Forum
Now that Facebook has refashioned itself as an aggregator for all kinds of online content feeds, my profile there has become my lifestream—and, as such, my preferred place of residence on the Web. Sorry, blog, you’ve been replaced. Sort of*.
FriendFeed is probably the next biggest competitor in this new “lifestream” category of online social media. But the problem with FriendFeed is that I don’t actually have very many friends over there! All (or most anyway) of my friends are on Facebook. And I’ve discovered that they apparently read the News Feed on Facebook with far greater interest than my blog has ever gotten (well, except for my abortion post, that is).
I have to confess, even though I fully embrace this new media technology and enthusiastically promote the use of it in my work of mission communication, I was still a little surprised to see how quickly (and energetically) people were responding and interacting—in response to two sentences I had posted. The conversation, which remained mostly civil and challenging (I think for those on both sides), was intoxicating.
So I’ve been posting a lot of things this week on Facebook—some via Twitter (which I’ve been doing for a while) and also directly on my profile—to see if the conversation continues, where it takes me, and who stays and who goes. So far I’ve gotten comments from current and past co-workers, from old friends (from 10 years ago and from 4th Grade!) and new online-only friends, from the U.S. and from elsewhere (Canada, New Zealand, even Nigeria!), from those who agree with me and from those who don’t.
Crossing the Line
It’s been an interesting experiment. One that I’m sure will continue, and one that I’m learning a lot from. For example, I posted a link to a CNN article about McCain campaign advisor Karl Rove, and included with it an anti-Rove rant complete with a derogatory name directed at Mr. Rove himself (as if he cares what I think—he’s not one of my Facebook friends). I realized a few minutes after posting it that I regretted the angry tone of it, so I deleted the item. Or at least, I thought I did.
Facebook was kind enough to retain it in my list of posted items, and comments began to stream in—most pushing back on me for crossing the line. One friend even told me, “You’ve become a liberal kook, you know that, right?” Well, sure, thanks for letting me know.
The Rove Rant was out of the bag, so I deleted (for good this time) the original comment and re-posted the CNN link with a new comment: an apology for the vitriol I had spewed. Here’s part of what I wrote: “I believe in transparency on the Web, and this is the downside of that transparency, perhaps.”
Perhaps. Because, although I regretted posting what I did about Rove, I was (and am) grateful for the opportunity for online friends to hold me accountable, challenge me on my political positions and religious beliefs, and interact with me on the topics and issues I find intriguing and important. That is not “the downside.” That is a very definite “upside.” And Facebook is facilitating the conversation better and bigger than my blog or other online forums for interaction have done to date.
*I plan to continue posting original content, such as longer-form articles like this one, via my blog, but, for a more steady stream of shorter-form comments/observations/links from me (and the lively conversation that accompanies them), be my friend on Facebook.