This is for all the Lonely People

By: Bored in Vernal
February 13, 2011

This afternoon I was eavesdropping on a conversation between a woman of a certain age and a man of her generation. They were discussing social media, in particular: Facebook. The woman was explaining her reasoning for refusing her friends’ and children’s requests to get a FB account. She ridiculed a particular status she had read and which seemed, to her, to epitomize what happens on facebook. The status had something to do with the amount of money paid for a lunch.

“Who CARES?” she questioned, gesticulating wildly.

If she had asked me, I would have had to say, “Well, I guess I do.”

I’m the one who keeps up on all of my friends’ new statuses (though I must admit I’ve hidden requests for farmtown, farmville, mafia wars, sorority thingies and poking, prodding and martini-bearing.) I comment if you’re having a bad day, I “like” your amusing links, I send Happy Birthday messages with accompanying youtube vids. When you put up pictures, I scroll through ALL of them. In short, I am a facebook stalker.

I admit that I am a lonely person, and social media has been my panacea. Through online interactions I am now able to satisfy my compulsion to question Mormon doctrine. I can talk about esoterica long after the last polite person at a party would have slipped away. I can get up at 3 in the morning and wail, and have someone immediately give me a ((hug)). There are so many advantages to the online forum that I can’t even list them all. Online, it’s possible to vehemently argue politics, blow off steam, then walk away if the exchange gets too heated. It’s possible to find people who share the same interests, one of a city, two of a country; and make them lifelong friends. Online I’ve found literary critics who will read my poetry or short stories and lovingly critique and help me revise them. Suggestions for books, recipes, parenting ideas, are all available at the flick of a finger. And I even draw great comfort from a friend who almost always says “goodnight tweeps,” before going to bed. It feels like my phone is tucking me in.

My electronic friends have become my ward. They are who I go to when I need something. I have been lucky to meet many of them in person. Others I will probably never know “irl,” but I share a connection with them that I just don’t have with some of the brothers and sisters here in town.

One of my fellow Mormons in my home ward becomes quite incensed at my social practices. She says that it is a detriment to my local ward and to myself that all of my social needs are being met online. It is true that I used to be much more involved in Church activities. I am still quite active; I hold a Primary calling, attend all of my Sunday meetings and quarterly RS functions. But I no longer feel that I have to attend every weenie roast. My friend insists that I should make more of an effort to socialize in the ward, with “real” people. But the people I meet online are real, also. And I’m finding more and more of a chasm between the two. At church, there is less and less of a conversation happening. Church services are conducted in a lecture format. There used to be a lot of discussion in Sunday School and RS, but now I find that these classes are almost completely without participation. When comments are solicited, they are to be short and to the point. Even many of our RS meetings consist of a “speaker.” My Visiting Teachers come, give a “message,” and are out of here in 15 minutes.

In contrast, social media has caused a fundamental shift in our culture. It has created an ecosystem facilitating new conversations that can start locally, but have a global impact. I’m excited to be part of this web. I feel like my voice is heard, one of my main frustrations in the local congregation.

We’re constantly being warned about the dangers of the internet by our Church leaders. There is a real concern on the part of many good people. Pornography is out there; time-wasting games; hiding of identities, inappropriate activity. David Bednar stated:

“I raise an apostolic voice of warning about the potentially stifling, suffocating, suppressing, and constraining impact of some kinds of cyberspace interactions and experiences upon our souls.” (“Things as They Really Are“, from a Church Educational System fireside address delivered at Brigham Young University–Idaho on May 3, 2009.)

He went on to describe how internet use is a misuse and a minimization of the importance of our physical bodies. I struggled with this talk, comparing the mind-numbingly boring interactions I have with physically present ward members to the often stimulating, interesting and amusing conversations I have with my online companions. I also enjoy the freedom from bodily encumbrance: people I meet online get to know my soul first, before judging me by my age, sex, or physical appearance. In my ward I’m no longer young enough for any of the newly married couples to invite me for lunch or conversation, but online it doesn’t seem to matter.

This post isn’t meant to approve of any online misbehavior. You know what it is. But I just want to put a voice out there for all the lonely people. It’s OK to reach out on social media. The friend you’ve never met in Wisconsin is a real friend. Social networks are important and valuable, and nothing to be ashamed of. Your online ward is here for you.

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44 Responses to This is for all the Lonely People

  1. Dan on February 13, 2011 at 6:13 AM

    BiV,

    (though I must admit I’ve hidden requests for farmtown, farmville, mafia wars, sorority thingies and poking, prodding and martini-bearing.)

    What about Cityville? Much funner than Farmville. :)

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  2. Henry on February 13, 2011 at 6:19 AM

    BIV:
    It comes across that you care very much for people.

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  3. adamf on February 13, 2011 at 6:36 AM

    “Church services are conducted in a lecture format. There used to be a lot of discussion in Sunday School and RS, but now I find that these classes are almost completely without participation. When comments are solicited, they are to be short and to the point. Even many of our RS meetings consist of a “speaker.” My Visiting Teachers come, give a “message,” and are out of here in 15 minutes.”

    I am SO glad my current ward is not like this. It sounds awful.

    I have found that the more I participate online in certain forums (either too angsty or too exclusionary… both are fine, I just don’t like them), the less I like church. Not due to any specific issue or historical fact or argument, just an overall, emotional experience. Some places though (like W&T, of course!) I have found don’t do that at all, they are very beneficial, and only enhance – or just complement – my experience IRL. The key for me is finding those forums and not branching out too much as I have a habit of doing, thinking everyone is going to like me… which is just not the case.

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  4. Bored in Vernal on February 13, 2011 at 7:08 AM

    I have found that the more I participate online in certain forums… the less I like church.

    That’s weird, but I guess it’s what our leaders are afraid of? So, if online participation makes us like church less, do we have a moral obligation to cut down on social media? Or is it just like preferring fiction to non-fiction?

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  5. Jeff Spector on February 13, 2011 at 7:11 AM

    I participate in the social media, but find it a poor substitute to real human interaction. Sure, you can connect with people you haven’t heard from in years, have what appears to be great and stimulating conversations, but it is a somewhat phony thing. Especially with people, you don’t really know. You don’t know if they are telling the truth and never really come a real conclusion about anything. Conversations just peter out most times.

    Most of by business is now conducted remotely and I really don’t like it. I always try to meet my contacts at least once in person, because it changes the relationship completely. Without any real contact, people can be more hostile, less accomdating to someone they have never met in person.

    I would not like virtual Church.

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  6. SteveS on February 13, 2011 at 7:40 AM

    Thanks for this post, BiV.

    I’m not sure Elder Bednar has mormon blogs and their communities in mind when he raised his apostolic warning. Nevertheless, there is real potential here for the online community to supplant the local community. Why? well, my online community shares common interests, struggles, joys, and pains that I don’t feel I can share with the ward I attend. I can express myself without fear of negative social consequence here. Sure, sometimes it gets a little feisty and contentious, but hey, things seem to usually work out.

    But the biggest reason I think we are attracted to the online LDS community, and to specific blogs/fora of that world over others is that in contrast to our real wards and branches, these are communities in which we have actually chosen to be active members. This is similar to way most other churches operate, who attract and retain members based on a number of theological and social factors, because the members always have the option of going somewhere else if they don’t feel like they have a community of support. In the geographically-divided LDS wards and branches, everyone is lumped into a ward, and it is yours whether you like it or not. Whereas in many ways this setup gives members a chance to work out their differences and grow together over time despite divergent ideas and opinions, there are, of course, many drawbacks to this arrangement. Perhaps the most important drawback is the lack of a sense of choice, despite spending lots of time and money within the organization.

    Don’t get me wrong; I like many of the people in my ward just fine. They are friendly acquaintances. But I get to choose my online community, but not my own ward. Perhaps that’s why I invest more of my spiritual time and attentions to the people here at W&T and other blogs than I do in my relationships in my ward?

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  7. DavidH on February 13, 2011 at 8:16 AM

    “But the biggest reason I think we are attracted to the online LDS community, and to specific blogs/fora of that world over others is that in contrast to our real wards and branches, these are communities in which we have actually chosen to be active members.”

    The geographic organization of the Church diminishes (but does not eliminate) balkanization and the potential of schism. I suppose there is a bit of balkanization in the bloggernacle. I don’t think that is what Elder Bednar had in mind, but who can say for sure.

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  8. Morgan D on February 13, 2011 at 8:30 AM

    You know I’m sick of posting pictures of me and my daughter and feeling like nobody ever looks at them. BIV: feel free to add me and look at my pictures all day long.

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  9. Jon on February 13, 2011 at 8:46 AM

    Although I enjoy the online community (like W&T) and enjoy the “talking” politics here, I don’t find very many like minded anarcho-capitalists of the rothbardian flavor but I still feel camaraderie with the people I chat with.

    Having said that I agree with Jeff. The online community is a poor replacement for reality. Your post reminds me of the story that you hear every once in a while of the two ladies that loved each other in the newspaper conversations but in real life found they loathed each other as neighbors. The moral of the story. Find commonalities in those around us and foster those friendships because they can be much richer than the online community. Imagine, BiV, a virtual husband to a flesh and blood husband, which would you prefer?

    Having said that, I do recognize the importance of the online community and how it can enrich our lives but not replace our lives. I’m a introvert but still think it’s important to make real life friendships and help people progress in real life.

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  10. CatherineWO on February 13, 2011 at 9:03 AM

    BiV, I agree with you 100%. I have made some wonderful friends online (even one in Wisconsin), people with whom I am more honest than I am with my own family. For me, my online friends are much more “real” than anyone I know here in Helena, MT. And I too am a Facebook stalker. Through FB I know if one of my daughters is having a particularly hard day. A comment may prompt me to pick up the phone and call or send an e-card or even a note via snail mail. Facebook, blogs and email enable me to be part of a bigger family, a global community, requiring me to care, something I don’t find on a local level.

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  11. Bored in Vernal on February 13, 2011 at 10:30 AM

    Imagine, BiV, a virtual husband to a flesh and blood husband, which would you prefer?
    ha, you probably shouldn’t ask me that question…

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  12. adamf on February 13, 2011 at 10:37 AM

    “if online participation makes us like church less, do we have a moral obligation to cut down on social media?”

    For me it’s more a matter of avoiding certain types of conversations or people. I usually am drawn to reading comments and stuff that serve no good or even just useful purpose. Weeding that out or just trying to stay away is good.

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  13. MH on February 13, 2011 at 1:10 PM

    Physical and Virtual friends have advantages and disadvantages. When I first got on Facebook, it was a bit of a time suck. I don’t update my status very often. But there are interactions I’ve had online in these Mormon forums that have added to my spirituality immensely. There are good and bad things with the internet.

    I do feel a camaradarie with many people in a virtual ward that is very differnt from my physical ward. I wouldn’t want to have only a virtual ward any more than being stuck in a physical ward. Both are valuable. Both had things I don’t like. Let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

    To moderate Elder Bednar’s concern, let’s not forget Elder Ballard’s request to engage online.

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  14. Andrew S on February 13, 2011 at 2:52 PM

    While I am a shut-in nerd who spends xx hours per day on the internet (I like to rationalize that since I don’t watch TV that much, it’s OK to transfer all that time to the internet), I can see some of the criticisms people bring to online interaction.

    1) Online interaction leads to unrealistic expectations.

    As you wrote, when an argument gets too heated, you can just leave. But more importantly, you can choose which sites you visit anyway, so that if a site consistently irks you, you just stop going. You can select to visit communities that either completely agree with you…or simply have enough “disagreement” that you can feel comfortable saying “I’m not looking for an echo chamber” without raising your blood pressure too much.

    Offline relationships don’t work so well. We organize geographically, not by interest, so we have to deal with people who don’t care about what we want to say or who don’t know enough to respond to what we want to say (and for whom we feel the same.) We have to deal with people with whom we disagree. And so on.

    2) Online interactions are shallower interactions.

    “LOL” for me means I gave a mental grin. XD means I maybe smiled in real life. In other words, all my emoticons are inflations of what I’m really feeling.

    But that’s not the really big part of the shallowness of e-interactions.

    On the internet, I can be a slacktivist. Put a twibbon on my twitter picture to donate a penny to some cause half-way across the world.

    Offline, I would have to get off my chair and into uncomfortable situations. I’d have to do manual labor to help someone move their house. And so on.

    And for what it’s worth, I’ve seen some amazing things happen because of the internet to brighten someone’s day (and I’ve also seen some amazing things happen because of the internet to ruin people’s lives), but there are some things that ((hugs)) don’t fix, and for that, I need friends offline.

    That being said, I tend to agree with you. I still have a really bad habit of contrasting “online” with “in real life,” (as opposed to “offline,”) but the fact is that people on the internet ARE real people (even if they may be trolling at any given moment.) We ought not throw up our hands and say there cannot be “real” moments or “real” communication just because it’s the internet.

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  15. Bored in Vernal on February 13, 2011 at 3:08 PM

    when an argument gets too heated, you can just leave. But more importantly, you can choose which sites you visit anyway, so that if a site consistently irks you, you just stop going. You can select to visit communities that either completely agree with you…or simply have enough “disagreement” that you can feel comfortable saying “I’m not looking for an echo chamber” without raising your blood pressure too much.

    And that is bad because????
    There may be a tiny benefit in learning to get along with people you don’t have anything in common with. But forming a community of like-minded thinkers is like creating Zion.

    the fact is that people on the internet ARE real people

    Amen. and that time when I had a situation that ((hugs)) couldn’t help, an online friend I had never met drove 6 hours to pick me up and let me stay at her house for 2 weeks. Didn’t get those kinds of offers from my physical ward; you know, the ones that come for 15 min once a month.

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  16. Andrew S on February 13, 2011 at 3:26 PM

    re 15:

    BiV,

    And that is bad because????
    There may be a tiny benefit in learning to get along with people you don’t have anything in common with. But forming a community of like-minded thinkers is like creating Zion.

    I am influenced by things like Eugene England’s “Why The Church is as True as the Gospel.” The gist is this: the imperfections and annoying aspects of people aren’t detractions from a Zion culture, but the mechanisms by which we produce a Zion culture. Since the point is to serve and love everyone — even those for whom you do not have much in common — learning to get along with those people is essential, not a niche skill.

    How can I put it in a different way.

    So, Zion will have a community of like-minded people when all is said and done. I don’t think I disagree with that. But in what ways will they be like-minded and how will they get there? Will it arise because people found others who shared similar beliefs and personalities and set themselves apart in cliques or will it arise because we have learned to grapple with different beliefs and learned to appreciate and accept that diversity as a strength and not a weakness? Will their like-mindedness be in beliefs and personalities to begin with, or is like-mindedness about overarching goals and purposes?

    To answer these questions, think of a body (like the body of Christ). It would be easy for all the livers to clique themselves with other livers, but really, livers have to work with hearts, lungs, eyes, and ears. Body parts are supposed to be united not in function (e.g., beat blood, respire air), but in the purpose of keeping the body alive in coordination.

    I believe that in the same way exercise help us to grow and improve through micro-tears and what are essentially controlled injuries to our tissues and muscles, abrasive, or simply different people help us to grow and improve socially and intellectually because of (not in spite of) our disagreements.

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  17. Bored in Vernal on February 13, 2011 at 4:06 PM

    OK, Andrew, thanks for that. It makes sense, and I sure love your analogy. To use the same one, though — it wouldn’t do to have a lone liver cell floating around in a body. When you are that lonely and out-of-it, you can’t even function. So I guess I would say both things are important. We need to be able to gather with the like-minded for support and fellowship, as well as learning how to work with the other parts of the body.

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  18. Andrew S on February 13, 2011 at 4:13 PM

    re 17:

    BiV, I guess being a part of Zion is REALLY like trying to be like stem cells. That way, we can be useful at whatever task we need to be wherever we are ;)

    (Testing

    !Moroni 10:4

    Moroni 10:4

    Testing complete)

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  19. Bored in Vernal on February 13, 2011 at 4:35 PM

    huh.
    Andrew, you are getting to me. You are a most unlikely spiritual mentor. But there it is.

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  20. Bishop Rick on February 13, 2011 at 5:12 PM

    2 things here. Being with like-minded people and being able to choose your community. I always hear about how cyber friends are fake and physical friends are real.

    I’m with BiV on this. Home/Visiting teaching seems forced to me. How is that real? Its like getting a calling to become someone’s best friend…whether they want it or not.

    I’ve been called a lot of things by a lot of people on blogs like this one, and some of them have actually been good.
    Like BiV (and likely many others) I love having a place to come and discuss controversial LDS topics. You just can’t have these conversations with people in your ward, or even your family.

    The sad thing is that the LDS church pushes intellectuals into a virtual ward.

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  21. Andrew S on February 13, 2011 at 5:30 PM

    BiV,

    Well, you know what they say. We are gods in…(wait for it)…embryo.

    (OK, I apologize to whoever was offended by that joke.)

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  22. Geoff-A on February 13, 2011 at 7:41 PM

    Bishop Rick, Agree. The Church has become so sanitized that it is inapropriate to have a discussion with more than 1 point of view.

    Sites like this and FMH give us the opportunity to hear other views, even if we don’t totally agree with them.

    I like media where they try to give all sides of an argument and leave you to come to a conclusion. The Church is the opposite of this- one point of view is acceptable.

    There used to be wards that were more liberal but I don’t live in one, and haven’t for 20 years. Do they still exist? I said in SS class that sometimes our leaders are inspired and sometimes they aren’t and make mistakes- next week the bishop gave a 40min talk in Sac meeting on the subject that we give total obedience to P”Hood leaders and we will be alright. It is not our place to decide which pronouncements are inspired, the Lord will make it right.

    I still express myself in SS but come here for open discussion and to see that there are others who question and think.

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  23. adamf on February 13, 2011 at 8:20 PM

    “There used to be wards that were more liberal but I don’t live in one, and haven’t for 20 years. Do they still exist?”

    They do. I’m in one. I don’t want to leave, but will probably have to when I graduate and move.

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  24. Bishop Rick on February 13, 2011 at 9:04 PM

    The closing address in my Stake Conference today was about sustaining and obedience to local leaders. The gist was that if you raise your hand and sustain a leader, then you are agreeing to obey that leader.

    When I sustain a leader, that has never been my understanding. My understanding has been that I sustain that person in that calling and am not opposed to that person having that calling.

    Sometime last year I was on a business trip and missed a Stake directive that all men in the stake should shave their facial hair and should only wear white shirts to church. I came back from the trip and noticed that I was the only one in the ward that still had any type of beard (I have a goatee), oh and I was wearing a blue shirt. For the next year I was the only one with facial hair and I still occasionally wear a colored shirt if my only white shirt is dirty. During this time I noticed that I was treated differently. Recently, 2 of the men that had previously shaved have started to grow their beards again and some colored shirts are starting to creep back in as well.

    Not sure any of this has to do with today’s talk about obedience, but it makes me wonder.

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  25. mcarp on February 13, 2011 at 9:04 PM

    I love the internet, because that’s where I met you, BiV.

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  26. Bored in Vernal on February 13, 2011 at 9:10 PM

    ((mcarp)) !!

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  27. Jon on February 13, 2011 at 9:12 PM

    @Bishop Rick,

    Oh, weird. Is that Pharisaical?

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  28. [...] just love it when a discussion topic goes viral, and spreads from one blog to another! (The Internet’s great, isn’t it?) For example, J. Max Wilson called the New Order Mormons “Pharisees”, [...]

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  29. Bishop Rick on February 13, 2011 at 11:46 PM

    Jon,

    I sure seems so to me.

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  30. Jeff Spector on February 14, 2011 at 12:52 AM

    “Sometime last year I was on a business trip and missed a Stake directive that all men in the stake should shave their facial hair and should only wear white shirts to church.”

    I agree wit hthe Pharisee comments. I understand the white shirt thing to a point. I wrote on that here a while back. But I do not understand the facial hair thing.

    What I really understand less is the inconsistancy of how these things are applied throughout the Church. It clouds the experience from one place to the other, if you must move around. What you get in one ward is not what you get in another. And it does not speak very highly of the “Church is the same all over.”

    But it does also speak to the point that SLC HQ is not as omnipresent as one might imagine with the incosistancy we experience.

    Back to the original post. Someone said Internet people are real people too. Well, yes and no. I know that some here write things they would never say in Church or in public hidden under nicknames. That does not sound too real to me. Again, how do you know if people are being genuine?

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  31. Bored in Vernal on February 14, 2011 at 5:41 AM

    I know that some here write things they would never say in Church or in public hidden under nicknames. That does not sound too real to me.

    Jeff, I have said things under pseudonym that I would never say in Church — and believe me, they are MILES more authentic. I tend to show the real me here more than I would dare when there is a possibility of censure or irl disapproval. I would have to say the genuine “me” is the one you read online and the fake one is the one who shows up to ward activities with a big smile on her face.

    I don’t know how many people are like me in this way, but I would suspect quite a few.

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  32. Justin on February 14, 2011 at 8:07 AM

    BiV: Though I agree with you that I tend to show the real me here more than I would dare when there is a possibility of censure or irl disapproval — I think the other side to the internet vs. physical world persona of me is that though I can choose to say things more in line with my real personality — I can also withhold mundane/unseemly parts of myself online that I can’t hide in physical life.

    Meaning — people who have to know/deal with me in person may have more crap to put up with to have a good relationship with me than do the people I only tell the good stuff to online.

    As I noted in a post I wrote on pornography, the Lord is about connecting real humans to other humans. For me, this is what activating tribal worship services, tribal family units, and a strong tribal priesthood, etc. is all about.

    Our online discussions are only valuable insofar as they aid each of the readers in making these connections. But this is not the connection.

    If people aren’t walking away from their computers and working to establish and spread our own tribes, then we have missed the mark.

    Though Zion will be made-up of the like-minded — we will not just be minds, ideas and text beside a gravatar of our self, etc. We will be physically real bodies gathered together. I think this is mostly the point behind the “anti-social media” crowd.

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  33. Bookslinger on February 14, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    In my ward I’m no longer young enough for any of the newly married couples to invite me for lunch or conversation, but online it doesn’t seem to matter.

    Ok, so why don’t _you_ invite _them_?

    There was a cute young 20-something couple who joined the church a couple years ago. I’m old enough to be their parents.

    I figured I was too old to be their friends.

    But the problem was, no one else in the ward befriended them, either. At least not outside “official” and perfunctory home-teaching and visiting-teaching (ie, 15 minutes once a month, and that’s it.)

    I noticed no one sat with them at Stake Conf.

    Well, then they went inactive. Rumor has it they fell under the influence of their anti-mormon relatives.

    I see it as that if they had had a close friend to go to, to ask those questions about doubts and “how do you handle….” kinds of things.

    In other words, they didn’t have friends to “innoculate them.”

    The husband was kind of a bookish intelligent type (I don’t know if I’d say intellectual, but at least very intelligent.)

    I was thinking of loaning him the 7 volume set of church history. When I finally got around to it, they had broken off all contact.

    So next time, I’m not going to let the age difference matter. As you point out, it doesn’t matter online, so why should it matter irl?

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  34. adamf on February 14, 2011 at 12:30 PM

    Bookslinger – to add an IRL example, I don’t think it matters. My wife and I are young, yet we have been invited to dinner before by a couple with three teenagers.

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  35. Bored in Vernal on February 14, 2011 at 6:13 PM

    #33 Yes, you are right. President Kimball said near the end of his life that he was sad that no one ever picked up the phone and asked him to go see a movie (!!!)

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  36. Ziff on February 14, 2011 at 6:58 PM

    I love this post, BiV, because I’m totally the same way. A Facebook stalker. Like you, I love connecting with people online because I’ve found people who are a lot more like me than people who are geographically near me.

    I really like your example of your online friend driving to get you when you needed help and you hadn’t even met IRL. To me, that’s the best kind of connection of all. I haven’t had quite that dramatic an experience, but I have thoroughly enjoyed my real-life meetings with people I’ve met online through blogs or Facebook. It’s frequently been instant connection–great friendship. I think fMhJanet talked about this issue at Sunstone last year, and she made the point that she thought online relationships needed to be extended offline in more circumstances to do more good (she was speaking specifically of fMh, but it probably applies generally). And if I remember right, she’s put her money where her mouth is. I think she’s taken a number of abused women into her home when they had nowhere to go, as a result of nothing more than their connection through fMh.

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  37. Bookslinger on February 14, 2011 at 7:17 PM

    I’m hoping one of my RL contacts will contact me online, and say “You’re the guy that gave me that book.” Actually, I’m also hoping someone calls or emails and invites me to their baptism. And thirdly, it would just be cool if a ‘naccler came across one of the books that I gave someone.

    Back before the Internet was opened to the public (when it was military and college use only), us computer geeks used things called “Bulletin Board Systems” (a “BBS”) where you dialed them up with a modem over your home phone line. They were amateur versions of AOL, or “GEnie”, or “The Source”. The Bulletin Boards could be networked locally, nationwide, or world-wide. Some of them actually interfaced with the university-level Internet.

    We had plenty of RL parties for internet BBS’s, networks of BBS’s, and things like “chat rooms”, etc. One local popular one in the 80′s was a dating BBS.

    And even back then, with BBS’s and AOL, it brought singles together, and also broke up a lot of marriages, and made some new marriages.

    The bottom line I learned, was this: Is online interaction contracting your real world social life, or expanding it? Are you “retreating” from real life into the online world? Or are you using the online world as a stepping stone to more of “real life” ?

    The GA’s are correct, in that everyone, minors and adults, singles and marrieds, need to be wary of online addiction. If for no other reason that the “good” of the Internet can steal from the “better” and “best” parts of real life. But an even bigger pitfall for married couples, is that it can create a real rift in the relationship.

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  38. Bishop Rick on February 14, 2011 at 11:09 PM

    Bookslinger, I agree that the GAs are right pertaining to the things you mentioned. My problem is that I believe the GAs have an ulterior motive that happens to be supported by a few dangers.

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  39. Jeff Spector on February 15, 2011 at 2:36 AM

    I do think the dangers are real as the younger generation and many of the older have abdicated a personal interaction life with a near totally online life. In the end, it is impersonal, unrealistic and has manifested itself in social disfunction among the younger crowd, For what I have observed.

    I find some people have an overwhelming compulsion to document their entire lives on facebook, for instance, as if people cared what they had for lunch each day.

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  40. Bored in Vernal on February 15, 2011 at 6:29 AM

    haha, Jeff, this brings us full circle back to the OP. Here’s the thing: I’m kind of into a world where people are interested in what I had for lunch. I am interested in the little trivia that my fb and twitter friends post. I wonder why you call this impersonal, unrealistic and socially dysfunctional. These interactions are real, more personal than the people in my ward who are more likely to keep things to themselves, and there is a LOT more social interaction going on.

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  41. Jeff Spector on February 15, 2011 at 7:48 AM

    Well, this all goes back to the axiom that you have a lot of acquaintances but very few friends. On Facebook, everyone is your “friend.” But not really.

    So I find the whole thing rather shallow in many ways. It’s just me, I guess but I find it fake sociality.

    BTW, I do not have to be friends with everyone in my Ward. There are people I really like, people I like and people I have no feeling one way of the other, and some I just don’t care for.

    I was better off socially in our other Ward where I knew just about everyone pretty well having served in the Bishopric and in the Ward for 17 years.

    And it could be a man-woman thing going on here. I am just not that interested in their trivial pursuits nor am I so interested in sharing mine.

    I am collecting facebook friends for our High School reunion, but I realize that I haven’t really know most of those folks for a long, long time.

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  42. FireTag on February 15, 2011 at 7:02 PM

    Yahoo has a news article today which I found by googling called:

    “Theologian: Facebook and modern technology are killing churches”

    It seems to suggest that the ability to meet social needs without church is having a strong impact on those not held by strong belief in their faith.

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  43. Bishop Rick on February 15, 2011 at 10:54 PM

    I knew FB was anti-mormon.

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  44. JC R. on February 23, 2011 at 7:31 AM

    I like social media because it forces conversation to be much clearer and less awkward. In face-to-face conversation I like to call people out sometimes, or ask them to clarify, and sometimes I like a good debate, but it makes things really awkward sometimes… especially at church. Unfortunately, it’s really only the people that I generally agree with in my ward that peruse the web.

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