Facebook – not for everything, not for everyone

facebook-thumbs-up-or-downSometimes people “hide” on Facebook or have friends that refuse to join? Lots of us hide from our past or even our present. Maybe you have an ex who is looking for you, or a birth family you don’t want to get involved with, or an old student who is stalking you. The reasons are endless. That’s why so many people are afraid to join in the first place. But their is an underlying, more important problem in the first letter. 

The second advice letter is about letting people know about a death in the family through FB. Is that appropriate? Has the old-fashion phone call taken a back seat to the impersonal, yet convenient social media method? 

Dear Ella,
What is the big deal with Facebook? Why can’t everyone just leave me alone? I’m not interested in joining it or sharing anything on it. To be honest, in my youth, I was a little promiscuous, and the last thing I need is for my past life to catch up with me because of  Facebook. My husband doesn’t understand what my problem is, and he wants me to join so I can enjoy interactions and photos with our family and friends who live in different parts of the world. It’s true that I’m always asking him if I can look at his Facebook so I can see what’s happening, but under no circumstances can I tell him the truth about why I don’t want to join. Why is this so terrible?
No Facebook for Me

Dear No Facebook for Me,
So many people use Facebook today to communicate that sometimes it’s odd to hear that someone doesn’t use it. If you don’t want to be on Facebook, it’s your right and choice.
Often, people who are not on Facebook are afraid of their privacy being compromised, or they’re simply not interested in always checking a computer or smartphone. It’s a fear of the unknown. Teachers don’t want students to find them, doctors don’t want patients to find them and people like you don’t want anyone in their past to find them. Facebook has many privacy settings – anything from public viewing to “only me,” where no one but you can see.
However, I have to mention the bigger problem buried in your letter: lying by omission. I’m certainly not saying you should be telling your husband the intimate details of your past. However, you are running from the life you had before you met him, which will always have you on guard. What if you meet one of these people on the street? Do you avoid going out? If you think coming clean would affect your relationship, then I understand keeping your past under wraps. However, you need to think if this is something you’ve kept secret because of how you feel or because you’re worried about how he will feel. Regardless, it’s a shame you can’t enjoy an easy way to stay in touch with your family abroad. There are many ways you can enjoy sharing while maintaining your privacy. You should consider a crash course in Facebook before shutting the door completely.

Dear Ella,
I woke up Sunday morning to a Facebook post announcing that a close friend lost her mom over the weekend and to check the funeral home website for details. To say I was shocked is an understatement. Not so much that her mother died – she was 98 and not well – but what a way to let people know! Is this what it’s come to? I have to find out on Facebook? What happened to an old-fashioned phone call?  Do you think this is OK?
What’s Happened to Our World?

Dear What’s Happened to Our World?
I can understand your shock, waking up to important personal news like this on a public social media forum. However, let’s look at it from your friend’s side.
Perhaps your friend was distraught and had a lot on her plate, having to plan the many funeral details, even writing an obituary and eulogy. Facebook is a convenient way to let people know. Her post could have been targeted only to those she needed to tell, and not a fully public post.
It also gives people the opportunity to juggle plans to be able to attend a funeral at short notice, and it’s a forum for friends and family to convey their condolences and support, which may be something very comforting at this time, much like the virtual memorial books online. Would a personal phone call have been a more desirable way to let people know? Of course, but sometimes practicality wins and the personal interaction takes place at the funeral or shivah.

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