Social media adventures

I haven’t felt much attraction to facebook. The concept of a computer-based social network doesn’t hold much appeal for me. I don’t care to count how many “friends” I have by how many people with whom I’ve exchanged computer messages. But I went ahead and opened a facebook account several years ago because it was a good way to follow the travels of a nephew whose life is interesting and worth following. I’ve never sought to grow my facebook following. I accept friend requests only from people whom I know outside of facebook. A few high school friends have sort of reconnected through facebook, but I don’t spend much time on the various groups and lines of conversation.

A few years ago, after attending a workshop on social media and the church, I started a facebook page and a facebook group for the church. I had hoped that others would take over administration of the church’s social media and there are now several members of the church, including church staff members who take the lead on facebook. For a while I was making daily posts to the church’s facebook page - just inspirational quotes and other upbeat notes. When we went on sabbatical in 2018, I stoped the daily posts. I received no comments, either good or bad, about the cessation of the posts. Since there was no request to continue, I never picked up the process.

Whether good or bad, I mostly ignore facebook. I post once a week when we send out a weekly email of news and information about the church and I post a link to the church’s monthly newsletter. I duplicate the facebook posts on twitter. For the most part that is the extent of my social media activity.

From time to time I scan my facebook feed. Because my facebook friends are people I know from real life and from a variety of different phases of my life, their comments are very diverse. Some have political opinions that are very similar to mine. Others make posts that I think are completely out of line and I wonder how they can think what they think. My own family is pretty diverse with many different political opinions. I just let the comments and posts slide by. I’ve no time for engaging in arguments over facebook. Most of the time I don’t follow the conversation threads that follow posts. I prefer to pursue conversations in a more one-on-one forum than post comments that are likely to be read by strangers. I have no need to argue with people I’ve never met.

Facebook, however, is an important communication tool in reservation communities. With few people having land line telephones and many people using track phones and changing phone numbers frequently, facebook has become a preferred way of exchanging messages. I have learned to use facebook messenger to contact people and work out arrangements for firewood deliveries and pursue relationships. I’ve been a bit more active on facebook when connecting with reservation friends.

I know my attitude is a bit out of touch with the realities of our times. Social media is a major way that people communicate and the church is in the business of communication. If we want to reach people, we need to use the media that is available to us. Social media is the source for much of today’s news coverage. Every time the President of the United States posts a tweet, it is repeated on television and in other media over and over again.

Because my facebook account is relatively inactive, it has been seen as a target by scammers and imposters. There is nothing on facebook to prevent someone from visiting the public portion of your page, copying the pictures and even the text and creating a fake account. Then that person pretends to be you as they contact your friends. Usually a complaint to facebook administrators and a change of password, just to be sure, will handle the problem. This week, my facebook account got hacked in a bit more serious way. When I received complaints from friends who were being contacted, I went to my facebook security page and discovered that there was a computer in Hull, Iowa logged on to my account. I quickly took all devices off line, and changed the password, thus blocking the hacker, but for a while the hacker had access to my list of facebook friends and information on my facebook page that I don’t make generally available to the public. There is no real personal data there other than the list of friends, but still it was a real invasion. Facebook later confirmed the hack and said they had taken down the fake page and stated that the hacker no longer has the friends list. Still it was an inconvenience and took time from my day that I might have chosen to invest in other ways.

Meanwhile, a friend alerted me to a facebook conversation involving members of my church were there were some pretty intense feelings being shared. It is so easy for someone’s feelings to be hurt by a comment made in haste. The poster of the original comment may not have intended any hurt, and might think of the post as a joke or just a clever turn of words, but soon the stream of comments begins to take sides and tempers flare. People become defensive and the situation seems to spiral out of hand. By the time I caught up with this particular line of conversation, more than 50 comments had been posted in half a day. I knew from my scan of the comments that I couldn’t add anything positive to the conversation without appearing to take sides. It was clear that feelings had been hurt. So I did my pastor thing and contacted some of the involved persons face to face, one on one. I don’t think I succeeded in soothing the hurt feelings much but at least I didn’t make the situation worse.

The experiences make me even more reluctant to dive into social media. It is so easy for things to go wrong. The best comment I got from the last couple of days was a private text message from my sister who said she knew the fake facebook messages weren’t from me: “You normally know how to write proper English.”

Copyright (c) 2019 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!