Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Is There Virtue in Virtual Friendship?

Though I am active in the blogosphere, I have not been lured into the web of Web-based relationships (Facebook, My Space, etc.). Have you? Check out one journalist's response to his own foray into the virtual friendship fray here. What do you think? Is there virtue in virtual friendships, or is it only so much naval-gazing, mutual admiration society and time wasting?

5 comments:

thefourwinds said...

I have avoided it mostly because I want my internet communications to have some depth. I do spend quite a bit of time emailing people who no longer live near me in order to keep up relationships. I also have a blog in order to have a forum for writing on issues that interest (or concern) me.

But, yeah, I can see where "status updates" could chew up just about every second of your life.

Yvette said...

Facebook like anything else is what you make of it. I say this after spending the last 30 minutes talking to 2 friends I would otherwise not have spoken to for months otherwise. And yes, actual conversations, not just your surface conversations that go nowhere. I personally have found Facebook and MySpace to be a great tool at reaching friends and family members that I otherwise would not be able to keep in touch with as much. Even if its just to drop a note that I miss them or love them. Can this like anything else be abused, yes. For those who spend every hour of the day waiting to update their status and fill out endless junk surveys. I say check your heart and evaluate why you are on these online social networks.

Michelle said...

I agree with Yvette, it is what you make of it. Most of all I find it a great tool to share with family that seems so far away. I can post pictures and happenings. My mom, brothers and aunts can view them anytime, since our schedules don't always match up for phone calls. I have somewhat reconnected with people from my past but mostly only on a surface level. I have tried really hard to let my love for God be part of my "virtual" life and this has already stirred up one really great conversation with someone from my past. I pray it will do more. As Yvette said it can be abused and I like others have found myself guilty of this. But it also can be a tool that you only put a small amount of time into with good results.

Kirsten said...

I think the author of this article presents and interesting perspective, and I agree, that we need to be cautious with how we use our time - whether it be reading blogs, playing on Facebook, watching TV - there are endless time-sucks in our society. That being said, however, I think it is unwise to write off, quite possibly, the fastest growing and most popular method of communication used by this generation, and the up-coming generation. How, as believers, are we to connect with the world if we simply write-off their tools of communication as time wastes?

Both Vince and I are members of Facebook, and in fact have had serious and meaningful spiritual conversations with unbelievers via this internet tool. We have been able to set up face-to-face meetings with friends whom we had not seen or communicated with in years, and through these meetings, had further opportunities to share the Gospel. Because we met "with" these friends on their turf, in a way that was comfortable with them (i.e. starting in a non-threatening way on Facebook), it opened up a door for further conversations about sin and the need for salvation through Christ.

Again, I understand that in all things we must be wise in how we use our time and energies, and it is easy to waste much of the time God has given us. However, in my mind, it would be foolish to simply write off an open door to communication to unbelievers because in my sin, I may be tempted to waste time. Wouldn't a wiser approach be to pray that God would help each of us to make the most of every opportunity and see the technology He has given us in the 21st century as an opportunity to share the Gospel and further His kingdom for His glory?

thefourwinds said...

I think there's one more two-pronged situation to beware of regarding any online communication, especially Facebook, etc., but even including email and blogs, both of which I use heavily.

For those of us who are already adults, how does it impact how much time we spend aggressively pursuing direct personal relatoinships with people in our communities? Online communication makes it easier for me to stay in touch with people who have left, but the fact remains, we simply can't be as close as we were when we lived near each other. So how much do I try to save the relationship that can never be what it was, and how much am I willing to forge new relationships with people who are around? That's a balance I wrestle with.

For children and young adults, there has already been a published study (sorry, can't find the link already) that shows how such sites hinder a young person's ability to develop committed, lasting personal relationships (and if nothing else, critically hinder attention spans).

While I agree for the most part that, like many things, how we use social networking sites is a heart issue, I think it can have more subtle impacts if the medium itself tends to hinder our ability to develop lasting relationships.