the bummer about social media

The Tale of a Facebook Folly

I had a phone conversation recently with a dear friend. She told me about how her best friend just had her baby, and how during the labor, the friend kept her in the loop as they live many states away from each other. But the friend having the baby didn't call for about two hours, at which point my friend was pretty sure she must have had the baby.

My friend got a phone call from another friend asking her, "Have you heard?!! It's a girl!! And her name is... and she weighs..."

Now, naturally, my friend wondered why this other friend, not nearly as close to the mama delivering, knew all of this before she did. The phone friend said she had read it on so-and-so's facebook status. And then my friend wondered how so-and-so knew. Because so-and-so definitely was not as close to her best friend having the baby.

Turns out, the father of the baby to be born had called his sister. And his sister posted the news joyously on her facebook page. And then other friends wrote congratulatory messages on their facebook pages. And it turns out that my friend, living in a remote area was out of cell signal. So even though her best friend was trying to reach her all the while, she had been unable to get through.

But it still sucked. Because my friend wanted to hear this most happy news from the mouth of her best friend. And her best friend wanted to be the one to tell her first. But because social media moves faster than wind, she heard it from a friend of a friend of a sister of a husband all through that handy status update.

This isn't the first time I've heard this story. I have another friend who learned of her own sister's baby being born through the husband's twitter update. And it just didn't feel right. The baby had barely taken it's first inhale before the dad thumb-typed the news. The problem being he hadn't told his wife he was going to do this. So she missed out on telling people herself, person to person, voice to voice. And in the midst of this highly charged moment of birth, they had a little fight because she was so disappointed that people were calling her to tell her the news that she had wanted to call and tell to them.

All I'm saying, is that I think there have to be some rules put in place of common etiquette and due process with social media. Because sometimes I think things move just too fast as it is, and we're missing the whole point of intentional community and sincere relationships.


Elsa said...

Amen! Couldn't agree more! Just because you can do something doesn't mean that it is the best way to do it or the most thoughtful way.
Once I posted a funny picture of my husband at an amusement park thinking it would be okay to share. We were having fun, after all. One of my "friends" who works with my husband thought it would be funny to take the picture off of Facebook and pass it around at work. Let's just say, I learned a good lesson that day: Don't post pictures of your spouse without first letting them know you plan to do so, no matter how innocent or appropriate it seems to you. :)
My husband doesn't like the social networking opportunities at all for various reasons and I've learned to respect his opinion for various reasons.
Good post! I'm sorry for your friends and the disappointment they had in their experiences. Sharing the news of a new baby is one of the most special experiences couples can have together.

Unknown said...

And that's not to mention the guy who updated his Facebook status from the altar before kissing his bride.

On the other hand, I have really enjoyed how social network sites keep me linked to other people. I don't have enough time to keep up with all the friends I cherish (to varying degrees), so this is really valuable to me. Whether a close friend tells me of a baby's birth before anyone else I guess is not the thing that makes us close friends, to my mind. It comes close to score-keeping, which can take a lot of energy. Instead, I guess I look to the times shared together, the support, and even the emails and status updates that provoke thought or make me laugh. They are all expressions of love.

Not to tease, but this kind of reminds me when we would show Grandma H a new piece of technology, and she would say "Where will it end?" Good question. (Contrast that reaction to Grandma B!) But friendships have survived past changes (people leaving their hometowns, the invention of the impersonal telephone, the spreading of ideas by book then radio then TV) and will again.

This topic has been getting some discussion lately; this post for example links to some others, including one that elaborates on your point:

Becca Groves said...

Dear Mysterious M,

That Grandma H was a wise, wise woman...and altogether nervous about a lot of things. I agree all of these tools are great for keeping tabs on each other. And truthfully, I have nothing against facebook and twitter, other than it had a strange addictive power over me that I just had to break away from. But I miss the ease of dropping someone a line or question or receiving a quick life update through pictures and status updates.

My concern still just stands in a person’s need to shout other people’s news from the rooftops. If the new mom or dad were the ones to post on their status that their baby was born, that’s fair game. To post another person’s joyous news just seems more like tmz than helpful communication.
Agreed that it is too cumbersome to keep score of friendships, but this honestly is probably better understood by women with girlfriends. We are a fierce people, unflatteringly jealous and sometimes (maybe all the time) insecure. But we’re also deeply relational and loving, so that finding out about a best friend’s babies via the social media grapevine just feels far too impersonal for our deeply feeling hearts.

Do you have Love Undetectable by sir Sullivan? I’d be interested in reading that one...

Renee said...

I've been thinking about this post, in light of a conversation that I had with residents about Jesus being born in today's world. How would things be different? It makes me wonder if the birth story would have angels or would the "shepherds of today" find out by social media????