Once again I’ve been duped. I bought The Church of Facebook by Jesse Rice because I thought it was similar to the book Sticky Jesus and would talk about using Facebook to spread the Gospel. Instead the book is about how Facebook is changing the way we define community and interact with the people we call “friends.” Even though I was disappointed that the book wasn’t about what I thought it was about, as an avid Facebook user I found it a pretty interesting read.
While the author uses Facebook as the main website of discussion, he really is focusing on the concept of social media in general. Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc. The focal point of the book is:
- How do we define community (what are some key elements of community)?
- What need does our online community feed? What gaps does our online community create?
- How does our online community compare to our “real life” community?
Another interesting topic that he addresses is the younger generation. For them their online world and their real life world are not separate but intertwined. What does that mean? What opportunities or problems does that create?
Some excerpts from the book…
Students who tested with the highest levels of happiness and fewest signs of depression all had one foundational thing in common: significant social ties to friends and family. In other words, connection is the key to happiness…At the root of human existence is our great need for connections: connection with one another, with our own hearts and minds, and with a loving God who intended intimate connection with us from the beginning.
[Our need for connection] emerges from the beginning of the Bible in the second chapter of Genesis: “It is not good for the man to be alone.”…God was clarifying that the fullness of our humanity could only be truly expressed through relationship with a suitable other.”
Jesus often got in big trouble with the religious leaders of Hid day for eating with “tax collectors and sinners”…because sharing a meal was a sacramental symbol that implied total acceptance…In essence He was saying “I love you and choose you just as you are.”
…the [key] question is whether those who keep ties to hundreds of people do so to the detriment of their closest relationships…as the number of our relationships grows, the less time we have for each one. As a result, our communications events must become more superficial.
Does online community really satisfy our relational needs? Can there be an experience of authentic community without face-to-face interaction? What are the consequences of spending more and more time relating online and less frequent time relating in person? “When we spend more time staring at a glowing monitor than we do into the eyes of those we love, or need to love, it might be time to shut off the computer.”
Virtual community is like playing the guitar with one string. You can make music; it’s just not as interesting or as good as music on a guitar with six strings.
It’s not a book I would recommend as a “must read.” However, once I started, I couldn’t put it down. And if you are an avid Facebook user, it will give you some insight into what drives you to spend so much time staring at a screen talking to people you rarely see. Personally this book has made me rethink my relationships, especially the importance of investing more time and energy in the real world and less online. Enjoy!