Meeting the needs of others – through Facebook?

I recently realized that it has only been just over a year since I finally broke down and created a personal Facebook page.  My motives were similar to other woman my age – to spy on my kids.  However, after experiencing the wonders of social media first hand I was hooked.  In fact, it is now part of my livelihood in that I manage 5 separate company pages as well.

The first thing that strikes most of us who enter Facebook for the first time is the speed at which you suddenly reconnect with your history.  Friends from elementary school that you haven’t seen in 30 years will somehow locate you and make a friend request.  It’s like a blast from the past as old boyfriends, girls you hated, teachers you loved, and the neighborhood bully are all again part of life in this new context of social media.

Facebook is a “safe” way to maintain a relationship with someone that would otherwise be strange or awkward in any other forum (remember your first love and all the secrets you told him?).  Somehow we can now easily transcend the unspoken baggage or memories that would keep us from re-friending these people face-to-face.  Now we can see them completely different as adults with spouses and children of their own.

I see Facebook as an opportunity to let others get to know me better.  Although I’m outgoing and open, I don’t make friends easily, mostly because I’m too busy to invest in the process.  I gain a sense of community as I read postings which make me laugh, cry, or reaffirm my thoughts or values. This is all good stuff.

However, I do believe that we are missing the proverbial boat.  In a hurting world, especially during tough economic times, there are those who are angry, discouraged, mistreated, or just plain done.  While most keep their “profiles” to what they want us to believe, it is often possible to read between the lines.  It’s like having a mood thermometer for hundreds of people on a daily basis.  The caution is whether the endless roll of status feedbacks desensitizes us to the point that we just don’t notice or care.

How many times have you seen a post requesting prayer and you either scrolled by it, or simply left a comment saying you would pray?  What if instead we actually called to pray with them over the phone, or found a way to fill a small need in their life whether it is food, companionship, or just a big ol’ hug?

Facebook is a great way to learn about the needs of others.  What a waste it would be if we didn’t take advantage.

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