I occasionally post something that strikes my fancy, but only once a week or so.
You see, my main purpose in being on Facebook is to see pictures of my grandchildren.
I post there because it’s automated and requires no effort whatsoever. And that implies no criticism of others. I just happen to have no pets and nothing interesting to say about my breakfast or my politics.
Also I’m on Facebook because I’m a retired elder. When I was eldering (if that’s even a word), I felt obliged to “friend” everyone in my church, since the young people were posting their plans to change congregations, be divorced, or whatever on Facebook before they talked to their church leaders. So it seemed to be the pastoral thing to do. (It was. Elders should be on Facebook. And Twitter.)
And most of the people from church are in fact friends, and I enjoy seeing their posts — except for the political posts, which I have blocked. (Thanks to FB Purity. I was tired of the political wrangling long before the election, and now that it’s over, I’ve lost all patience.)
So I mainly just look for pictures of the grandkids and read the Alabama football posts others put up. (I’ve largely sworn off talking about Alabama football on the blog because, well, Alabama is so dominant that it’s not fun anymore.)
Now, at last count, I have over 1,200 “friends,” most of whom I’ve never met. Most of these are people who want to follow the blog using Facebook, which is great — and one reason I don’t post a lot of personal or football stuff. I figure they’re there for the blog posts, and I’ll respect their time and not talk about my indigestion or latest trip to the doctor.
But this does mean that I don’t “follow” most of my friends. I mean, there’s just not time in the day to keep up with the posts of over 1,000 people, even if they were all blood-kin! So I only follow Patrick Mead and Bobby Valentine. And my family, And a very few close friends that I’ve met in person. And Alabama football. And no political posts, even from family.
So this gives rise to this problem: I’m sick (endocarditis, to start) and have only so many hours in a week available to blog. I’m not working because I’m just not healthy enough, and so I have very few days when I’m up to posting. That means I don’t have time to socialize on Facebook Messenger. I’m struggling to find the time to post at all. I’m days, maybe weeks, behind on reading the comments. And I love the comments. (There’s not been one with a picture of a cat or a discussion of someone’s choice of breakfast — ever. They’re great!)
Therefore, if you’ve messaged me on Facebook and I’ve not responded, I don’t mean to be rude or to dishonor you or whatever. I just don’t have time to post and talk on Messenger. I’m seriously tempted to remove the application from my computer, but don’t have time to figure out how.
Now, I’ve noticed a cultural difference between Americans and those who live in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. In the USA, if you send me a friend request and I accept it, that’s it. There’s no “Hello, how are you?” Just an electronic connection. It’s understood that the “friend” is really a blog reader and Americans are, by culture, always busy and so very time conscious. Hence, it’s just as impersonal as can be. That may be a very bad thing, but it’s who we are. But among Americans, it’s being respectful of my limited time, which I appreciate — and we are a driven, busy people. But if I run into this Facebook friend at church or a lectureship, I’ll join him or her for lunch and talk Bible and church for hours if they wish.
Those who “friend” me from other nations often send a “Hello” or “How are you?” greeting, which is, I’m sure, culturally appropriate, and if I had time, I’d respond. But I don’t. And I don’t want to be thought rude. Just a busy and sick American acting the busy, sick American way.
In dealing with Americans — and we are a peculiar people — if you have a question about the Bible or church leadership or whatever — don’t start with “Hello.” Start with the question. I mean, just jump right in there and tell me what I can do for you. To me, that would be courteous because it would be respectful of my very limited time. I know that in other cultures that would be rude. Not for me. Not for most Americans.
I can’t promise to answer everything I’m asked. But I usually do — although it sometimes takes a while as frequent hospitalizations do slow one down. And if I don’t prioritize writing the blog, there would be no blog at all.
Finally, if you disagree with me or have a hard question about something I’ve written, post it in the comments on the blog. I won’t feel dishonored. I mean, be polite, but don’t hesitate to make your point and ask your question. Maybe I’m wrong and need to be corrected. If so, thank you! Maybe I failed to make myself clear and need to express myself more clearly. Again, thank you! Maybe you’ll point me into a new line of understanding or study. Again, thank you very much. We Americans tend to be very direct with each other.
I love questions, and the harder the better. I learn more from the readers’ questions than from the books I read (other than Scriptures, of course). (But I really am far behind on reading comments due to my current illness. So please take that into account.) And if someone asks a good question (and it happens nearly every day), I want to share the question and the answer with the readership. It’s like Bible class. The questions are part of the teaching process.
So do not worry about hurting my feelings or injuring my honor. Speak to the question, not me personally (no ad hominem arguments allowed), and I’ll be fine, the blog will be better, and maybe another reader will have a helpful reply far better than anything I could come up with myself.
- No, I don’t want to play Angry Birds or Farmville.
- No, I don’t want to buy sunglasses from you.
- Please do not add me to a Facebook group without my permission.That gets in the way of seeing pictures of my grandchildren.