Friday, November 16, 2007

On Facebook for Baha'is: More Than an Internet Diversion

Yeah, I'm on Facebook. Thanks to Child o' Africa.

Of course, I've been on MySpace and LiveJournal but only to be able to access and post comments, usually requests to excerpt and re-post. Facebook has been different, although I'm not sure why. It seems a little more grown up than MySpace, for one, but there are other factors, too, that just have not become clear to me yet.

Using a social networking tool is somewhat embarrassing for me. You know, the business of asking someone to be your Friend. Anyone can come to a blog if it's public, Friend, friend, or even foe. I like that. Blogging feels more impersonal, given the re-posting format of Baha'i Views.

BV is not a blog that draws many comments. It makes more sense for a reader who likes a particular post to go to the original site for any commenting. BV has a place in the blogosphere, but not necessarily as one for dialogue or debating issues. There are lots of other sites much better designed for that. It's forte is in presenting ideas and conveying values through juxtaposition of text and pictures in such a way that another entire new layer of meaning is demonstrated. It is a collage that, hopefully, is reflective of the positive energy and spirit of the Faith.

Back to Facebook. For a blogger, a Facebook profile can show one's personal side in a way that seems acceptable, something short of mere self-promotion. Facebook is ultimately a Friend Wheel (see image below) of inteconnection.

Social networking on a vehicle like Facebook can include joining and starting groups. I started one, Baha'is of Pierce County, as a way to further link the Baha'is in my cluster, Cluster 19 here. It's off to a ... start. Whether it will ever include more than just a small portion of believers in the county remains to be seen.

There are a lot of barriers for Baha'is to overcome. Facebook has been, let's face it, a young person's game. For the many Baha'is who no longer can consider themselves youth, there are certain, let's call them cultural, barriers to jump over.

But, Baha'is are being asked to do things differently in this new era of the Institute Process, for example. We're breaking the mold for the Way Things Are To Be Done, finally. Baha'is are stepping up. Doing things differently for the sake of the Cause.
Being a Baha'i is all about being a part of a social network, the most fundamental network you can have, the network of your Faith community. It is how humanity has been spiritualized and unified since Day One.

May Cluster 19 be an inspiration for the rest of the Baha'i world! May Baha'i Views raise the level of awareness for the Faith and all it stands for among its readers, both Baha'i and non-Baha'i! Long live Facebook and its brethren and successors!
Here is Child of Africa's description of her becoming involved with Facebook. -gw

I have a new internet diversion--Facebook. I signed up for an account a while ago just to see what all the fuss was about and haven't paid much attention to it. But recently more friends have been signing up with facebook and finding me and adding me as a friend and I finally clicked the link to, in the wink of an eye, find all the friends in my email contacts who were on Facebook and I asked them to friend me and it seems to continue to expand from there...friends of friends find you and friend you. Then you browse friends of friends and find more friends to friend. Suddenly I am in touch with long lost primary or high school classmates still in Africa or now in England or Ireland, friends from China, friends from graduate school andBaha'i friends from various periods of my life. And I have a gallery of friends photos right there in my friends section, my "Facebook" with status updates on their whereabouts and state of mind.

Brings to mind once again that sentence about the system of world inter-communication in a paragraph in Shoghi Effendi's writings written in the 1930s
The unity of the human race, as envisaged by Bahá’u’lláh, implies the establishment of a world commonwealth in which all nations, races, creeds and classes are closely and permanently united, and in which the autonomy of its state members and the personal freedom and initiative of the individuals that compose them are definitely and completely safeguarded. This commonwealth must, as far as we can visualize it, consist of a world legislature, whose members will, as the trustees of the whole of mankind, ultimately control the entire resources of all the component nations, and will enact such laws as shall be required to regulate the life, satisfy the needs and adjust the relationships of all races and peoples. A world executive, backed by an international Force, will carry out the decisions arrived at, and apply the laws enacted by, this world legislature, and will safeguard the organic unity of the whole commonwealth. A world tribunal will adjudicate and deliver its compulsory and final verdict in all and any disputes that may arise between the various elements constituting this universal system. A mechanism of world inter-communication will be devised, embracing the whole planet, freed from national hindrances and restrictions, and functioning with marvellous swiftness and perfect regularity.

{Image: "Look! It's The Social!: facebook Friend Wheel,"

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