Father Gary Selin of Denver is always sending me great links and notes. Recently, he passed along this provocative article from the New Atlantis entitled "Virtual Friendship and the New Narcissism." I'd encourage you to read it.
The article brings up the topic that usually comes up with Facebook debates: does Facebook dissolve the meaning of "friend." As you probably know, Facebook depends on linking with other people that you know (or perhaps do not know). Facebook renders these "linked people" as "friends." It is now so common that people now use the word "friend" as a verb. For example: "Will you friend me on Facebook?" or "Sorry, I don't friend my students until after they graduate."
The other problem with social networks like Facebook is that we are tempted to create alternative personalities. Facebook offers us the opportunity to "sell ourselves" in a positive light. Nobody is going to identify themselves as "constantly in-and-out of relationships, unemployed, alcoholic, and thoroughly obsessed with collecting Transformers memorabilia" on their Facebook profile. When people list "Favorite Books," they don't list a bunch of lust-in-the-dust novels or "the Twilight series." No, they list exotic "smart people books" like "Tolstoy's War and Peace," or even better, "Shakespeare's Plays - All of them"
The temptation to "pad your Facebook profile" is real. For many people, Facebook serves as your relationship resume - and they want it to look good!
So the question is this: Does Facebook hurt or help society? Does it increase relationships or make them more shallow? If the film-version of books leads to the end of reading books, is Facebook the end of true friendship?
In particular, I know that some priests (and even bishops) use Facebook and some do not. Same goes for religious. Yet, I also know clergy and religious who are deeply opposed to it. (Wasn't a Dominican nun recently dismissed from her convent for "too much Facebooking"?).
Anyway, please read the New Atlantis piece and feel free to leave your opinion in the comments box.
ad Jesum per Mariam,