Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Facebook, No Thank You

"Facebook, you got to sign up for Facebook!"

Well, I am not going to for a number of different reasons:

I can see a real benefit to the exchange of ideas that goes about on the blogosphere everyday and I do not believe that Facebook contributes to this discussion. From what I gather, Facebook is mainly a social networking tool that enables you to get back in touch with people you have lost track of over the years. At this point in my life, I simply don't have the time to keep tabs on this many people, nor do I really care all that much what Steve from second grade is doing now.

I am interested in exploring views and ideas and discovering information that I was previously unaware of. For the sake of an open discourse on my blog, I sometime have included views that I do not necessarily agree with in the hope that a commenter will express an opposing view and a dialogue which is hopefully civil will ensue.

With that said, I think Facebook's inability to provide a platform for a wide and open discussion is one of the main things that is sorely lacking. Perhaps Facebook does not claim that it was intended for this purpose, yet communication via Facebook seems to now have replaced many other forms of online discussion.

Facebook's popularity stems from a person's innate curiosity to reveal the concealed and to know where he stands on the status ladder in relation to others. Did Steve from second grade get married? Where is he living now? What does he look like? How big is his house? Was he more successful than I am? This last question is essentially what drives a person to do a Facebook search of another person.

Rabbi Chaim Dovid Green once wrote,

"We see that the nation of Israel voluntarily situated their tents such that they should not violate the privacy of their neighbors. That means that they were not interested in their neighbor's business. They possessed the emotional refinement to prefer not to know "interesting" things about the people around them. This is a trait which requires cultivation and maturity."

It is my intention to cultivate this trait, so don't expect me to find me on Facebook.

Related: I do not like that Face book, Sam-I-am


At October 24, 2007 at 12:46:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All rationalizing aside, similar and other equally legitimate complaints have been made about about blogging.

At October 24, 2007 at 12:48:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

You have a point. However, when was the last time you heard a rabbi encourage someone to use Facebook more?

At October 24, 2007 at 12:56:00 PM EDT, Blogger Orthonomics said...

Count me out too. I have a hard enough time keeping up with my projects to worry about too much else. At least with blogging, I hope that the ideas circulated make a difference for people.

At October 24, 2007 at 2:24:00 PM EDT, Blogger haKiruv said...

Ah, just another "hater". ;-D

At October 24, 2007 at 2:27:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Hakiruv: So I made no valid points in this posting?

At October 24, 2007 at 3:27:00 PM EDT, Blogger Akiva said...

I find social networking sites valuable for ... social networking. They help me operate a more virtual contacts/address book, making it wider that it would be otherwise.

I use LinkedIn on a professional basis, and Facebook on a personal basis. In both cases I minimize information to that relevant for the function, and I don't participate in the virtual voyeurism.

I got involved in Facebook purely to keep track of my teenagers (and see what they were doing there). This proved wise, as they were exposing more personal information than was wise.

As a person who does not network well in person, I find these forms of virtual networking to be particularly valuable.

At October 24, 2007 at 3:27:00 PM EDT, Blogger treppenwitz said...

In retrospect, I think facebok is fine for someone who wouldn't otherwise have a footprint on the web. But for anyone with a bog it is redundant.

At October 24, 2007 at 5:03:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Go to the fourth segment at

Was discussed on-air this morning.

At October 24, 2007 at 6:31:00 PM EDT, Blogger Alice said...

You make valuable points of course! I just joined it after being invited by someone with whom I had fallen out of touch. Someone from Scanadinavia- a sort of distant relative- found me there totally disconnected from the person who originally invited me. I'm glad both reconnected with me. BUT I can see how it can be a time waster if you aren't careful and I do feel a bit vulnerable there for some reason.

At October 25, 2007 at 5:22:00 AM EDT, Blogger yitz said...

i'm not trying to convince you to use facebook, but like all things that are reshut in olam hazeh, it can be used to accomplish good or evil..

the real question is is there a way to use it without being exposed to all the ervah out there?

the same as my blog, I try to set an example and shine the light of Torah through my profile on facebook.. the difference being, facebook is a little more personal than my blog since the people who generally see it are people that I know personally.

I've apologized and de-friended people on at least two occasions because their facebook actions were showing up in my newsfeed and were not the kind of things I should be seeing every day. That, believe it or not, makes them reconsider their actions from a new perspective.

My blog actually automatically cross-posts to my facebook notes, which allows my divrei Torah to be read by an audience of friends who might not know about or bother to keep up to date with my blog. Every day (b"h) their newsfeed has a dvar torah or two that i've written and perhaps one of the titles sparks their interest.

I use the insight it gives me into the lives of my friends to know if anyone needs help or a little uplifting, or if I should pray for them, and when I see they're doing well it makes me happy and thank HaShem's kindnesses.

of course it isn't for everyone, and for some people, perhaps myself, it's outright dangerous.

At October 25, 2007 at 6:29:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Akiva: I had never considered the angle you mentioned about using it as a monitoring tool for your children. Good idea! I mentioned your comment to my wife and she agreed as well. (I am still not going to start using it though.

Treppenwitz: I agree that between using gmail and blogger my time is spread pretty thin.

Anonymous: Thanks for bringing the link to my attention.

Alice: Agreed.

Yitz...: It is interestig you mentioned the images on Facebook. At a friend's prompting, I did a search for some people I once knew. When the results came back, I was confronted with images that I would rather nor see and hence this is another reason I will not use it.

At October 25, 2007 at 2:13:00 PM EDT, Blogger haKiruv said...

...Although I will agree if you agree to loose-systemed networks like MySpace aren't going to work in the long run. Myspace is too loosely coupled and not very meaningful/lack of integrity from friends.

At October 25, 2008 at 7:26:00 PM EDT, Blogger [ Hródric ] said...

it's a legitimate view, the one from that rabbi. but also discussable. it is true the value of "not intromission in the neighbour's bussiness", specially between nations (a thing that president Chavez never understood). but if one use that vision to a community of simple people, that vision could favour the impunity of people like Josef Fritzl.

i agree with you -about FB-. it is a waste of time most of the time. i have an account but i don't find it contributed to my life more than an e-mail or a blog.


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