Saturday, March 7, 2015

Theft #11 - Stealin' Back My Friends

I'm reflecting back to when I joined Facebook, resisting it for a couple years . Overall, I have --pretty much--found it to be an interesting and enjoyable experience. I've had some doubts about the sheer amount of information that we all share together, but in general it does keep mutual friends aware of each other's activities in a unique way. And, for the most part, I can control what info I want to share.

However, I did discover early on a feature of Facebook called "Highlights" that cannot be controlled--at all--by the user. This is a right sidebar list that shows apparently randomly selected items from my friends as "highlights" for my Facebook homepage.  That has now been changed to "Trending," and it sits there--always--as a ticker on the right side.  You can hide the post headings, but you can't get rid of the feature itself.

Now, since these are all from people with whom I agreed to be friends, you'd think I would have no objection. But as I think about it more seriously, I realize that the placement is directly below the advertisement section, which appears in the top right section of the homepage. Noticing that correlation, I don't think it is a stretch to say that the "Trending" section is--at one level--nothing more than Facebook's "advertisements" for certain of my friends' posts, notes, comments, applications, etc. That is, Facebook is deciding which of my friends entries should be most important to me. Why should they be able to do that without my explicit input? And why shouldn't I be able to delete, re-order, add to, or otherwise change the content? Well, as I said, Facebook controls the ads on it's site, and if my friends' entries are--in the end--nothing more than ads to be promoted, then Facebook is --by default--stealing away my friends whose entries are not chosen as worthy of "Trending."

So--you guessed it--I'm stealin' back my friends! If I can't control the content of these friendship "ads," I can do what I do with most online ads: I can ignore them! I can chose to click on none of these "Trending" posts at all! And--when you're online--to click or not to click is the make or break decision for most websites.

But-bottom line: How does this "no click" decision fit into the Biblical-redemptive purpose of this site? Simply this: the freedom and election in Christ that I share with most of my Facebook friends is threatened (IMHO) by Facebook's control over whether their entries are "Trending" or not; those who are not "the chosen" are--by redemptive standards--in a form of bondage, since their output will not be as widely accessed. By stealin' back these friends, I affirm that I regard them all as chosen by God for salvation, chosen by me for friendship, and equally free both in Christ and in their importance on my homepage.

"To click, or not to click," that is the theft.

Later in Christ,
The Thief (who really "reached" for this one....)

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