I am finally entering the 21stcentury.  

In a moment of weakness during one of those never-ending negotiating moments with my son, I agreed to sign up for Facebook. My son gave me a brief tutorial and after a few moments I was emerging from my relational cave into the world of communicating with thousands of people online.

What a rush!

It was so encouraging to see immediately that ten people were requesting to be my “friend”, until I realized that my son has over 100 friends on his page and that is low for a guy his age. Anyway, after a week of swimming in the deep water of social media, here are some things I have learned.

  1. No event is too mundane for Facebook. Part of the reason I signed up for Facebook was to provide a salve for my existential loneliness.  But within the first day, I had received recipes, gardening tips and a detailed narration of someone’s trip to the mall. Really?
  2. People talk in sound bites (lots of them). Communication is really different on Facebook. Most posts are one or two sentences. Maybe we should require some politicians to communicate only on Facebook.
  3. Many of our counseling graduates are thriving (Praise God!).  It is such an encouragement to reconnect with them and to see where they have landed and how they are living out the gospel in many different settings.
  4. Some of my relatives must have barren lives (See #1).
  5. The term “friend” has to be seriously redefined. It has nothing to do with knowing or being known. Rather I think it means that they can free-associate on your page and you can return the favor.
  6. If your Dean includes a photo of a man and woman in bed together in his Biblical blog on sex, that photo will end up on your Facebook page (even if you have not “friended” him yet!).
  7. My first date in middle school does not remember our date.  This is too painful to elaborate on.
  8. Facebook can be addicting. At least cigarette smokers limit themselves often to a pack (20 cigarettes) a day.  Things I never cared about a week ago suddenly occupy way too much of my frontal lobes.
  9. My son is much more skilled in Facebook that I ever will be.  On the one hand this is exciting to think that at least someone in our family understands how people communicate in the 21stcentury. On the other hand it makes me feel old. Very old.
  10. Facebook can be a great tool (used properly).  Overall, I think will be a good learning experience for me.  Now run to your computer and friend me so I can have as many friends as my son.

Bryan Maier, Psy. D. is an Associate Professor of Counseling & Psychology in the Masters of Arts in Counseling Program at Biblical. He maintains a private practice at Diane Langberg & Associates. 

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