An Open Letter to my Facebook Friends

Dear Facebook Friend

The first thing I want to say is thank you for being my Facebook friend even though, of the over 1500 (30/09/18 it is now 4000) Facebook friends I now have, less than half I have met in real life and for the most part don’t ever expect to do so. The second, in order to clear up misunderstanding, is an explanation as to how I operate on Facebook and how I hope my friends will respond.

I am pleased to report I have an eclectic, diverse group of friends from all over the world and all walks of life and circumstances, with different interests and views on life. I feel blessed as a result. Some share my religion; most don’t. Some share my political views but they are few. None hold to all my philosophy of life or share all my interests. I post all sorts of stuff, such that there will be (hopefully) something to interest everyone. Some have faith; some don’t. Some are white; some aren’t. Some are men; some are women. Some are young; some are old. Some have no disability; some are disabled. Some are straight; some are gay. Some are British, some (and increasingly so) are from overseas. Some are rich and powerful and fulfilled; some are anything but. Some are happy and in control; some are sad and struggling. None of that matters.  I agree with Martin Luther King – what matters is content of character.

Most friends say between nothing and very little and whether or not they read my ramblings and how they react when they do, I can’t say. I suspect I am not your run of the mill Facebook user. I use Facebook like I would a reflective diary and as a fantastic way to communicate my message and useful information. I also use it to promote my blog https://jrbpublications.com/blog/, which I regularly add to, and is why I became a regular Facebook user. I find it is a good way to find out what some of my friends are up to and sometimes it leads me into praying. I am also somewhat pedantic when I post, e.g. I might edit a post if I spot a missing comma or a typo. I see my tandem journeys into Facebook and the blogosphere as an opportunity to reflect and commentate on our momentous times, recognising I may see through a glass darkly and I could be wrong. I don’t expect folk to go along with all what I post (I would be surprised if anyone did) but I hope they will find it helpful and I do try to operate the “true, necessary and kind” principle when I post and while it may challenge your own thinking it is not my intention to offend people with my strongly held and sometimes controversial views. I read other peoples’ posts and also visit various groups for information, encouragement and entertainment; for my own views to be informed, refined and challenged, and I may even chip in.

I do post almost every day and often several posts in a day. I have a working assumption that my Facebook friends are intelligent and bear with me for not repeating myself or providing additional explanation when I post (if you do want this, feel free to enquire via the comments facility). The only thing I ask if you do comment is that what you say is respectful and relevant. I am glad to say I defriend very few and when I do it is because of disrespect and irrelevance. The last thing I want is for my page to be is an echo chamber for those who agree with me. The people I respect most are those who disagree, give good reasons why they do and do so in winsome manner and as one sincerely seeking after truth and will listen to alternative views. I like it when people like what I post, but that is a bonus. Besides posting my own stuff, I read what my friends have to say (although I have to be selective) and, if warranted, I might even “like” or “comment”, and nothing I like more than taking part in constructive discussions about subjects I care about.

While I think Facebook is a fantastic idea, I do have qualms. There is a feeling that mobile phones and social media is taking over peoples’ lives in an unwholesome way and it attracts too many sad people and those who thrive on drama and I quite get it that some of my real friends avoid Facebook for that reason. It seems people are becoming addicts and brainwashed, due to a mixture of computers, mobile devices, Internet AND Facebook. I don’t like Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook CEO) because he discriminates against and bans conservative types (e.g. Alex Jones), too cosy with oppressive regimes, sells user data for profit without user knowledge, uses agenda led algorithms to promote stuff they want but not I and is a globalist – other than that he is an ok guy and makes available a fantastic product, and the idea of bringing the world close together exploiting the power of the Internet has merits. Facebook has been a wonderful tool for getting messages across but does come with a health warning. It has almost achieved virtual monopoly status, which I find worrying. I should add though that the great thing from my perspective is Facebook is free and I can live with the adverts.

As for what I post, the content covers a wide range of topics, stopping at stuff that is too personal for public consumption. Some of what I post is ironic; some are shared posts I broadly agree with, not necessarily 100% accurate, and me not adding caveats saying as much and some of it some of my friends will profoundly disagree with; but I do so as a corrective, to encourage and to wake people up. I post fun stuff; I post stuff to do with my own wide ranging personal interests including family but with provisos; I post political stuff and while I am seen as more in the conservative camp opinion wise, it is a lot more complex than that; some of it is to do with my community activism and some of it is religious and often from a Christian gospel preacher perspective and speaking as a watchman on the wall. I am not politically correct and a lot of what I post is to do with stuff that matters even if unpopular. Subjects covered are wide ranging: culture wars to cricket, Donald Trump to Donald Duck, international affairs to local politics, LBGT matters to personal tributes, restaurant reviews to theological reflection, and a lot to do with community matters, e.g. concerning homelessness.

I think I have covered my main points. I would like to pin post this on my “wall” by way of explanation of what I do and why and to save explaining later, but in any case I suggest to anyone who wants to follow what I write that they bear in mind the above before taking umbrage, making comments or feeling bemusement at at some of what I post. I realise I may be an enigma for some, but we do live in a crazy, mixed up world and this is my attempt to make sense out of it, although others may have very different takes on things. But more than anything, my desire is to honour God and bless others.

Finally, since my Facebook friends cover a wide range of opinions, interests and backgrounds (which I think is great), it does mean we all need to be forbearing toward one another. We should try to get along and be humble enough to recognise we don’t know it all and can always learn from others, and sometimes we may be wrong.

Update 23/09/18: I have just gone through my daily routine of responding to “Facebook Friend” requests (the number of which has been increasing daily of late, and this year the rise has been exponential and I will soon be reaching the 5000 maximum that Facebook imposes, not that I am any one special, lol). Most I do NOT know, which is not unusual. Getting on for half I deleted and the rest I accepted. Because of time restraint, I took no more than one minute making each decision. Those I deleted revealed one and usually more of the following: 1. nothing written on their About page, 2. nothing on their Timeline that indicates a connection or activity I might find of interest or it suggests an ulterior motive and 3. no or very few mutual friends. Please don’t take offence if I do delete. I like to receive friend requests, even if we disagree or you don’t like me, providing they follow the respect and relevance guidelines given above. My plea is give me a good reason for becoming Facebook friends. I am ok with being messaged, although I don’t do video chats, but bear with me if my response is brief and appears impersonal. If you want to interest me in your project etc. please go ahead, but bear with me if what I offer as a response is limited and when I say I do not give money. God bless you 🙂

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