I’ll admit it. I enjoy living in a high-tech age. My favorites are my iPod and downloading music from iTunes. I like having a world of information at my fingertips with the Internet. I am particularly fond of the Apple computers, which I use at home and at work. I have been an Apple geek since my first computer programming class at Bishop Luers High School in the mid-1980s. Nothing frustrates me more than trying to figure out a PC when my brain is wired for a Mac.
Our work at Today’s Catholic involves digital cameras, a digital microphone, the GuitarBand program for podcasting, e-mail for the delivery of stories, photos and press releases, and the Internet to gather news. These are wonderful tools in the work of evangelization through this newspaper.
But sometimes I get a bit overwhelmed with the technological and social networking advances. Last year, for example, I gave in and joined Facebook. It’s mostly family and friends from church and work, but I am amazed who requests to be my friend. And I have become “sort of” reconnected with friends from high school and college.
On postings, I often shudder that people divulge a little too much or the extremely trivial. But it is fun keeping up with my family and friends, seeing family photos, vacation highlights, etc.
To optimize my time with Facebook, I have chosen not to join any cause invitations. And only rarely do I indulge in “social interviews” or quizzes, or participate in Farmville or Cafe World activities.
I still prefer face-to-face interaction with my wife, daughter and family. I still prefer a real hug and a handshake. I still like hearing the voice of someone I love on the telephone.
For me, it is important that I set limits: I’ll use just Facebook, not other social networking sites. I’m careful what I divulge. I don’t let Facebook “rule” my day or life. I tend to check Facebook when I feel like it. Sometimes I go two or three weeks without logging in.
Now, if Facebook is the rage when my daughter is older, I’ll probably be using it to spy on her and her friends.
Facebook could easily become an addiction. A story posted on CNN’s Web site last April noted in a quote from Paula Pile, a marriage and family therapist in Greensboro, N.C., “… problems arise when users ignore family and work obligations because they find the Facebook world a more enjoyable place to spend time than the real world.”
Signs of addiction, Pile said, is losing sleep over Facebook; spending more than an hour a day on Facebook; becoming obsessed with old loves; ignoring work in favor of Facebook; and the thought of getting off Facebook leaves you in a cold sweat.
Social networking does take time, which is a precious commodity. If you find yourself addicted, try a detox this upcoming Lent: maybe give it up for a while.
Of course, I also like Pope Benedict XVI’s idea of using Facebook, YouTube and other social networking to evangelize. If you see something you like about our faith, connect your Facebook friends to it. You never know who you are touching with the love of Christ.
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