Long time readers will recall that I haven't exactly been a cheerleader for social networking sites. I even had an article published at MercatorNet on the topic.
I like blogging. I like writing down thoughts and opinions on the news and events of the day, or ideas about life in general. I enjoy the fact that others (more than I deserve) enjoy reading what I write and are so kind as to say so. I like the leisurely pace a blog sets, with plenty of time to explore nuances.
I like reading other people's blogs, too, and seeing how they think about things. Often times I'll be moved to consider a position or issue I have not made a priority just because of someone else's passion for or insights about that position or issue.
Both Facebook and Twitter don't have those things to offer, to me. I'm not that interested in tiny, quick snapshots of what someone is doing or pondering; I'm not much inclined to read a 140-character remark about standing in a grocery store line, but would be fascinated by a longer post about the corruption of checkout magazines or the reality that for so many women feminism has translated to a job behind the counter while the kids are in daycare and dad is...long gone. The tiny, quick insights we all have are more interesting to me when they've led somewhere, been fleshed out, and are presented as a coherent series of thoughts or ideas.
I've always supposed that social networking sites could be extremely useful for some people or for some reasons. Twitter, for instance, would have been nice back when I was in college and lucky enough to go to the March for Life in D.C., because someone was always getting lost or buses would be moved at the last minute or, on one memorable occasion, a group of kids was ushered straight off the bus into a monastery with the assurance that the facilities would be available before Mass--only to discover that by "facilities" the dear monks meant two tiny single-use restrooms. Facebook would be less useful for that sort of occasion, but it is nice for far-flung family members to share information quickly and easily and make sure that everyone is up to speed during times of crisis, planned gatherings, and similar occasions.
And Facebook is also nice for group pages. Say, like, when an impetuous redhead sets up a "Coalition for Clarity" blog and two gentlemen have the idea to set up a group with the same title on Facebook, and one of the gentlemen e-mails the redhead to invite her to be an admin, and she has to explain that she doesn't, in fact, have a Facebook account...
So I set up an account.
The Coalition page is great. I didn't build it, but I've added some links here and there. It has been wonderful to see people join the group, and to realize that there are lots of Catholics who are firmly against torture in all its forms.
But the personal stuff? I'm no good at it. I've accidentally hit "ignore" once or twice to a friend request I didn't mean to ignore, I can't figure out the whole "wall" thing, and I still see no need to post a tiny half-sentence every hour or so to say what I'm doing, or whatever people ordinarily do with this thing.
I did figure out my personal "friend" policy, which is this:
Accept friend requests from:
1.Anybody I know in real life.
2. Anybody I "know" from the Catholic blogging world, or who has a Catholic blog, or who comments a lot on Catholic blogs, etc.
3. All clergy or religious who take the time to send a request.
4.People who don't meet 1-3, unless I get a message from them (or an email here) which clears up for me who they are.
At first I felt guilty about "4." But I've already had some odd requests from people whom I can't place, and after I read some pointers about Facebook security which cautioned against accepting requests from people you don't know in some way or other I decided to stick with the way I've been doing things. However, if you've sent me a request and I ignored it, please feel free to send another one; I might have ignored you by accident, or I might need a quick email from you (e.g., "My real name on Facebook is Jane Doe, but I comment on your blog as Peggysue12..."). That will clear things up and I'll accept your request right away.
If you use Facebook, I hope you'll check out the Coalition for Clarity group page, even if you skip over my bland and boring personal page. Since I've been such a vocal holdout against social media, I'm taking some small comfort in the fact that it is completely true for me to say that it took torture to get me on Facebook.