Thursday, August 20, 2009

How Do I Know I Want to Be Your Friend?

Generally I'm a fan of privacy settings on such sites as Facebook. But I find lately that they seem to be in the way of "friending" people. For instance, a little while ago a name appeared in the "suggestion" box over on the right-hand side of my Facebook page. Well, I went to school with someone by the same name, but it's a fairly common name--not quite John Smith, but certainly in that neighborhood--and so I click on the little picture (unhelpfully, a dog) to see if perchance it's my old acquaintance.

Ah, but "John only shares certain information with everyone," Facebook tells me (in a very clumsy sentence, I might add). "To learn more about John, add him as a friend."

Well, no. See, I want to learn more about John to help me decide if I want to add him as a friend.

(I know that the object of the game, for many, is to have that friend list bulging beyond all recognition, to eventually be "friends" with everybody on Facebook. But that's not how I roll. I'm into quality.)

Sometimes in such cases I can look over John's list of friends and do some deductive reasoning. But not always. I mean, if it's someone I went to college with, well, that's 30 years ago. I have something like four college friends among my 168 high-quality friends. The odds are probably pretty good that that's true for many of my demographic group. Not a lot of clues to go by.

And, sure, I can send John a message and ask whether he's the same John Smith who had the locker next to me in tenth grade or whatever. But, sorry to say, by this point I've usually lost interest entirely and moved on to the next task. If I haven't made the effort to be in touch with Smith these past 35 years, why would I do so now? Let him contact me! He can read my profile, after all! Nor do I have a picture of my cat as a profile shot.

The Truth Is Always the First Victim

Christianity Today writes about my Lutheran friends' passing their Social Statement on Human Sexuality, unable to resist the temptation (irony!) to subhead it "Tornado touches convention center as Lutherans approve sexuality statement by the exact margin it needed to pass."

Very poetic.

Too bad about it being untrue. The tornado struck downtown -- and not just the convention center -- shortly after two p.m.; the vote came shortly after six.

Missed it by that much.

Later in the article Christianity Today does sort of slide in an "Hours later the assembly voted..." but of course by then the damage is done, and those who skim rather than read will -- as intended -- come away with the impression that my friends voted and then were smote by a tornado!

Great story, even if Christianity Today had to make it up.

Especially egregious in that the paragraph previous to the bare mention of the interval between tornado and vote quotes a Baptist minister (??) warning that "The tornado in Minneapolis was a gentle but firm warning to the ELCA ..."


And if the day had been bright and sunny, the skies blue, the birds singing, would Christianity Today have proclaimed that it obviously was a sign that the Almighty approved of my Lutheran chums' action?

Hahaha. I make joke.