Finding Community on Facebook

A couple of weeks ago, after prompting from the youth group, John and I joined the world of facebook. For those of you who don’t know, facebook is an online, networking program that allows you to create your own profile with a picture and information about yourself. A good thing about facebook is that you only give the information you want and the only people who can see your profile are the ones you have approved as friends. Once you do that, you can connect with your friends online and stay in touch with them on a regular basis.

Throughout my life, I have heard about the days when people used to go to town on Saturday night. In my understanding, it was a time when everyone from the country came into town for the evening to do their weekly shopping. It was a time to relax from the long week of work and spend time in community with one another.

When I was growing up, we had our own hangouts, like going roller skating every Friday night in 6th grade; going to ballgames, dragging Main or watching movies in high school; and hanging out with friends at campus ministry in college as an alternative to the drinking scene.

What I have found on facebook, is a hangout, a place to build community in our technological world in which people may move on a regular basis and may move far from friends. In addition to getting connected to our youth, in the two weeks I have been on facebook, I have found many of my United Methodist clergy colleagues located throughout Kansas, and in other states, and have felt more connected to them than ever. I have chatted online with two of my cousins, one in New York City and the other in Milwaukee, WI. The conversations were not long, but it was a way to quickly check in with someone I hadn’t talked to in awhile.

But I think the thing I like best about facebook is something called the status update. This is simply a short line that you can update as often as you want that simply asks, “What are you doing right now?” The update that you enter can then be seen by all your friends. Sometimes the status update is very simple, like, “Jennifer Collins is eating lunch.” But other times, it can be full of all kinds of emotions—excitement, boredom, worry, sorrow, joy, concern, or just plain silliness. It enables friends to share in the stuff of everyday life, at any time of the day, from where ever they are.

Community can be found in many different ways in many different places with many different people. When we joined Facebook, one of our younger colleagues said, “Welcome to Gen Y fellowship.” Facebook truly is a place of fellowship and is a gift that a younger generation has given to us. Fellowship and community may not always look the same, but God is at work bringing people together in new and exciting ways.