I’m constantly looking for ways to simplify and streamline life. So when I joined Facebook a couple of years ago, I thought it would be a really simple way to keep in touch with my long-distance family members and close friends – simply and efficiently. But I immediately got hit with a dilemma. Who is a “friend”?! The definition began to get really blurry! Before I knew it, I had over 600 “friends” and many of them I had never met in person! I was grateful that so many people sought to be connection with me!
Then, my son joined Facebook. I started coaching him about not accepting requests from anyone whom he didn’t know for the sake of his safety. He ‘friended’ me and began looking at my list of ‘friends’ and asked me who many of the names were. I found myself fumbling for a way to explain why I had accepted hundreds of requests from people I really didn’t know well… and I realized that I wasn’t setting a very good example! I had an important decision to make.
I eventually decided I need to save Facebook for connecting with people who are a part of my “real life” — family, church family, neighbors and personal friends. And I would use Twitter to connect with online friends, business acquaintances, people whom I’ve never really met and others with whom I love interacting but don’t truly know on a personal basis. This was a difficult and time-consuming decision! One that is on-going! It took hours and hours to go through all the names and try to make a split decision. I found myself worried that no one would be able to find my blog or stay in touch. But I kept going back to one thing: setting an example for my kids.
Since my kids were little, I’ve coached them about “stranger danger”. I tell my kids to be careful and not to trust someone with personal information just because they have a friendly profile picture or say nice things. But I had to heed my own advice!
I’m finding a huge sense of relief in this decision. At a time in life when email and social media goes everywhere with me via the Blackberry, I understand more and more the importance of having a personal life — some places to go that aren’t about work, or blog traffic, or having our daily activities “out there” for anyone and everyone. It may not be popular, maybe even hurtful to some, but this Facebook decision became a matter of integrity. I never want to ask my kids to live by standards by which I can’t live. For that, I’ll never apologize.