Imagine inviting all of your friends over for your birthday party.
And by friends, I mean just about everyone you knew in high school, your college friends, people from your ward(s), people from work, relatives, ex-boyfriends/girlfriends. In other words, this is a BIG party.
Imagine, furthermore, that everyone is interested in what you say and what you do. It’s your party after all. You can’t simply have a hundred private conversations.
This is a dilemma. You likely have very different ways of interacting with your very different friends. You’d say some things to certain friends that you wouldn’t be caught dead saying to others. Around some friends, you’re more expressive; around others, more reserved. With some you’ll chat about politics or religion (in fact that seems to be all you do), but with others this is out of bounds. And imagine all of the people that you hope don’t talk to each other.
This, of course, is a hypothetical situation, but it probably rings true to most people on a smaller scale. We might think we know someone, but then we see them around a different crowd of people and we’re surprised. Sometimes disappointed.
Enter Facebook. And now the situation is not so hypothetical. Well, what do you say? You might think you’re awful clever with that last status update, but some of your friends are certainly thinking, “Wow, Sue’s a little different than I thought.” You might think, “Well, this is the way I am, and if somebody doesn’t like it, then that’s their problem.” But this is an awfully anti-relational way to be. Surely even the most individualist people among us act differently with different people.
So, what does all of this mean in terms of being Mormon on Facebook? Certainly, we can do things like say what our religion is, and we can also say we’re a fan of this or that. But in terms of things like status updates, shared links, etc., it is difficult sometimes. I’d like to post links to posts from this blog, for example, but the reality is that many of my friends are not LDS and this site would be weird for them. There’s a world that I share here that, frankly, I don’t wish to share with everyone. So I keep it quiet and I don’t even include my blog at all on Facebook.
Another issue: Many of my friends are “fans” with Thomas S. Monson, the Church, even Jesus Christ. But this strikes me as odd. It seems to equate my religious beliefs with my media preferences. I would wonder what my LDS and non-LDS friends would think.
Anyway, what are your thoughts? How do you “be Mormon” on Facebook and yet also respect the differences of all of your many “friends”? I really hope this can turn into a good discussion and perhaps help to revive this (sorry) somewhat dead blog.
UPDATE May 19: Be sure to look at my comment, about ten comments down, for a clarification of what I’m trying to explore with this post.
Filed under: Relationships | Tagged: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Facebook, Facebook friends, individualism, Jesus Christ, LDS, LDS Church, missionary work, Mormon Church, Mormons, relationalism, technology, Thomas S. Monson |