About four months ago, I signed up for Facebook. Several of my younger friends in the Jewish communal world had been clamoring for me to join. They had “tagged” photos of me in their profiles, whatever that meant. I was skeptical. I’d spent some time on MySpace. It was a disorganized mess. I had set up a profile there months before, never checked it again, and continued to receive friend requests from people with names like “Suzi” and “Candy.” Would Facebook be any better?
Ultimately, it wasn’t the clamor of friends that led me to enlist. It was work. IFF was, and is, considering doing something with online social networking. Having not been involved in any social networks up to that point–and being the youngest person in the office–I needed to get up to speed. Alongside Facebook, I signed up for Yelp! and Shoutlife, a Christian social network. I never look at my Yelp! page and plan to shut down my Shoutlife profile, but I’ve checked my Facebook homepage every day for at least the last two months. My name is Micah, and I am a Facebook junkie.
Facebook may have sapped some of my productivity at work (sorry, Ed), but it does have its benefits. A week or so ago, I started a group, Friends of InterfaithFamily.com, and we’re up to 21 members. And today, in my friends feed–which lists updates to any of your friend’s profiles–was the news that Andi Rosenthal, one of our best writers, had joined a group called Conversion to Judaism Resource Group. If you’re on Facebook and a convert, or considering conversion, it’s a pretty active resource. But scrolling through the discussion board turned me onto a terrific new blog called Jews by Choice. This group blog written by, and for, converts, is updated on a daily basis. It’s home to the kinds of discussions that most born Jews never think about: How expensive are Tefillin? Is it OK to attend a life cycle event at your synagogue even if you don’t know the congregants involved well? How does one do Shabbat? In responding to these questions, the site is a great information source for both Jews-by-choice and Jews who feel bashful to admit what they don’t know.
So, yes, Facebook has its uses. (Although like all junkies, I may just be in denial.)
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