Home‎ > ‎Community‎ > ‎

Thinking about talk (2)

. . . Facebook which embodies I suppose, the best and worst of both technology and communication. The best because it allows us to communicate and keep in touch with a large network of people, including people we've lost contact with over the years (that is really nice). The user has the option of connecting with people individually (privately), you can set up a small group, or you can communicate with everyone at once (publicly) --- and therein lies the issue.

When used this way, FB is "billboard" communication. When you post on your wall, it’s like putting something up on a highway billboard. Granted, you can set your page so that just your "friends" can see it but the term is pretty loosely applied by most users so that usually several hundred eyes end up seeing what you write. And if you choose the more expansive options of "friends of friends," or "everyone," than there is no limit to who is seeing your posts. Regardless, there’s a real art to communicating with others via a billboard and most people simply don’t have it.
The problem is they think they do.
They tend to fall into categories.  There are the boaster posters. They report to you and everyone else that they lifted weights or they ran. Or they would like everyone to know their child’s team won or they had a good report card. Or they want to tell us all the unbelievably cute things their child or grandchild said/did.  While a few of these from people you know well are enjoyable, an endless stream from all of your "friends," can get just a bit wearying to go through.  
In this same category but worthy of special mention are the sad posts of those who invoke social stereotypes to characterize people who support a different sports team than theirs.  Or they dip into a vocabulary of borderline hate speech.  Does it need to said that believers have no business speaking this way? 
Closely related are the announcer pouncers who have a link the world must see (many times promoting something that will make them money). Or they want to let everyone know how they feel that day, what they had for breakfast, or that they had their hair cut and colored.
Then there are the uncomfortable posts where kids rant about their parents, teachers, relationship issues, etc. Even worse is when parents attempt to use FB to address behavioral issues concerning their children (I'm not just speaking about them talking about their child, there have been instances of parents airing out things with their children!).  And let's not forget those spouses who share intimacies.
None of this is inherently the fault of FB, for if most of these things were messages to individuals or a small group, they would be fine. And, even though FB allows you to "hide" people who habitually make such comments, that sort of defeats the whole purpose of having them as friends. 
"A wise man's heart guides his mouth," (Proverbs 16:23).
No, the problem is that communication is trivialized by being robbed of its most important ingredient: context. There’s nothing wrong with the light-hearted news we've addressed --- we do it all of the time when we see people or speak on the phone or Skype. But the important difference is that with all of these it takes place in a personal context with one person or maybe a few people at the most. But when such banter is indiscriminately dispensed to a few hundred people in exactly the same manner though you have differing degrees of friendship, you're swimming up the communications stream instead of down it.  Think about this:  you rarely talk to any two people exactly alike.  Why?  Because the context with each of them (i.e., you shared expereinces), aren't the same.  
Well, Facebook isn't going away (and it shouldn't).  And in all probability, neither are the unhealthy communication habits that have come with it.  The plea of these posts is that we soak in the wisdom of the proverbs that I've interspersed thoughout.  May our words be meaningful and well chosen so that the relationships they build will be healthy and eduring.
"A wise man's heart guides his mouth, and his words promote instruction," (Proverbs 16:23).
Back to Community
Back to Home