Is Facebook killing off faith conversations?

Is it just me or are faith conversations becoming less and less frequent online? I get the impression that, as Facebook becomes more and more public, the conversations are becoming more ‘safe’ and secularized.

I feel it myself. Whereas, when I began blogging, there was this subversive community feel to the whole thing, these days my Dad and cousins and everyone gets to see what I put in my status updates. So there’s this constant temptation to tone things down, less I be perceived as a religious nut. When social media becomes so public, where is the space for special interest conversation?

8 thoughts on “Is Facebook killing off faith conversations?

  1. Keep speaking out for Jesus regardless who is reading your status. They can call you whatever you’re a child of God and name calling want change that. We must not back down it’s time to stand for Jesus as never before,he hung in there in the Garden and on the Cross for us,and we must stand up for him.Keep praying for boldness and move ahead you never know who you’re helping by speaking out.
    Love in Christ Pttyann

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  2. Yeah, I agree, it’s good to be bold in the faith when situations demand it. However, depending on what’s happening, you can always create a “secret group” on FB and you can’t choose your relatives, but you can always choose your friends!

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  3. I think part of the problem is Facebook is too pushy.
    Blogging is more about drawing you into a conversation. It has built in self selection. You can generally anticipate that people reading your stuff are seekers of some sort. After all, for most blogs most new visitor arrive from Google searches or link following. This includes even the hecklers. They find you because they’re looking for the sorts of things you’re talking about.
    Facebook is different. Facebook is about foisting your conversations onto anyone within your social radius. As it is inevitable that some of these will be completely indifferent to faith, non seekers, there’s the risk of becoming the equivalent of the idiot on the street corner shouting at passersby. Not the most endeering witnessing strategy.
    So I find myself grappling with these issues. More than one way to approach them I think.

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  4. Well, put it this way. While most of my friends and acquaintances know I love Metallica, there’s only a privileged few I’d inflict my passions onto. Same dif. So, what I’m thinking through is how to use Facebook to invite and engage without being pushy.

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  5. Just throwing in a cuppla thoughts…
    1. I have found that even real-time, face to face, I may not always feel “free to be me” in company of sundry others… prob the same on FB
    2. might be a worthwhile exercise for people to think about how many of their FB friends they have met in person, and the quality of their friendship BEFORE being FB friends. I imagine this would vary quite a lot from case to case. Personally, I don’t have a lot of “friends” on FB that I haven’t met, and not being a celebrity of any description, I am not inundated with FB friend requests from people I don’t know or from people I have only met once or twice. The results of this analysis may affect how people word their posts on FB. Perhaps “secret groups” i.e. invitees only participate in groups of interest may be more akin to the dynamics of blogging.
    However, I do have friends and relatives who are FB friends who do not share the same acquaintanceship or passion for Christ that I have. So, any comments I put for public viewing (although if I can trust the security settings on the FB site, I have selected options so that only my friends can view), are, out of respect to all, intensity-censored at times. Plus, I don’t spend huge amounts of time on it, preferring to blog for reasons such as Matt has mentioned. Blogs provide opportunities for personal reflection and expression in a context where others are “in” on the topic in a way different to FB. I agree with Matt on that.
    In a context of personal, face to face conversation, there are many cues we interact in response to… it is widely known that “body language” provides the majority of communication vibes . FB is far less multi-dimensional and perhaps that may account for its alleged “pushiness”. What do others think about that?

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  6. Lucy, a sizable proportion of my Facebook friends are blog fans, which is probably why it took so long to get to this point.
    Not really looking for secret forums, I still want people to be able to stumble across what I write. I’m just thinking a bit more self selection for spiritual interest wouldn’t go astray.
    On the flip side I’ve also gone back to reading blogs more and Facebook less. That’s where the more in depth writings are, which is what I am after.
    Now, regarding push and pull strategies, another way of looking at this I think is by distinguishing between high context and low context situations – see http://mattstone.blogs.com/christian/2010/06/highcontext-cultures-and-lowcontext-cultures.html
    Facebook, because everyone sees it, is low context
    Blogging, because more interested people see it, is high context
    Communication approaches need to be varied accordingly.

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  7. Hi Matt. An interesting post, this, As a rule of thumb I like to keep my online communication open. If there’s something to be said one to one then I just use messaging. My blog has quite a wide readership but pulls in most traffic from the Anabaptist-Mennonite constituency. In the main, when I want to have a more specialised conversation, I tend to ‘borrow’ space away from my main blog. An example would be a recent ‘walking church’ post on the Ian Adams’ ‘kindling’ site (http://kindling.cms-uk.org/profiles/blogs/sole-searching-early-days-for). I suspect though, that the online vs face to face question is more fundamental than any subdivisions in online communication.

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