ChaliceChick is asking some questions about Facebook and YRUU. Good stuff and I hope she prints the answers.
Many of us dived in to Facebook with both feet, to try out the medium. Some of us have devoted large amounts of time to this new (to us) medium, all in the name of discovery. What might look like addiction or a diversion/aid to procrastination was, in fact, a noble pursuit, dedicated to finding the strengths and weaknesses of the program.
And some of us have figured out, by trial and error, our boundaries. Only friending "real" friends, not friends of friends. Realizing that the flip side of connecting with old friends from high school is that the old acquaintances from high school whom you also friended can now see the minutiae you post about your life. And you will see the minutiae about their life and how they want Christ back in Christmas and have no patience for people who don't get that we're one nation under GOD and then when you post a status update referencing your evangelical sermon, an old boyfriend wants a copy of it so he can debate you ...
Lot of pros and cons about Facebook. It's a great tool for passive evangelism -- posting UU videos, articles, etc. Except there are some folks we probably wouldn't evangelize to, who might be on our list.
So, how big do you allow your Facebook pool to be?
Safest, of course, would be to keep it to just family and friends. But even that could be risky. Do you want your mother seeing your best friend's comment about the party you both attended?
I remember reading some where that because we all wear different masks depending on who we are talking to, it's very difficult for children when their worlds collide, e.g. Mom and Dad up at school, chatting with their teacher. They wear one mask for Teacher, one mask for their parents. Standing between them, they're trying to switch the masks back and forth. No wonder they act a little squirrely.
Facebook is where our worlds collide. I have my UU friends, my high school friends, my cancer-parent friends. Different worlds. Different masks.
I love, love, love that I have several minister friends on Facebook. They allow me peeks behind the curtain. We commisserate when we're procrastinating on a sermon. I get glimpses of how they combine personal life and ministerial life.
And I've seen them do Facebook in different ways -- making it wide-open, friends with their parishioners, or more restricted, making another hard and fast rule against friending congregants.
It's easy to see there are pros and cons both ways. Open it up, and conversely, you need to be less free with your status updates. Keep it just friends and family, and you can be more open.
But what a great tool it is for ministry, and so I'm still stuck, trying to figure out the boundaries. If your congregants are also Facebook friends, you can post notices of upcoming events, generate excitement -- "Get to church, Friends! It's going to be a good one!"
And you get to see in their lives, in real time. Someone is sad -- there it is, on Facebook. Someone has a birthday, loses a dog, loses a job, has a date, has an ill parent ... the mind swims. How much, as a minister, do you respond to? How much ministering are you going to do because of the information you glean from Facebook?
It's enough to make a wee seminarian decide to cancel her Facebook upon ordainment!
So ... what are the rules you're developing? So far, mine are: only friending 1 degree people (e.g. no friends of friends), not responding to status updates unless I'm willing to reestablish a relationship with the person (face it, there are some people whom I enjoy knowing what's going on in their lives, but I just don't have the time to add in an active relationship) ... and not releasing sermons to ex-boyfriends.
Those are my rules. What are yours?