The Church of Facebook by Jesse Rice

January 22, 2010 | By | 2 Comments

…we often post status updates, links, and personal information heedless of who it might offend. We make private meetings on public Facebook walls, regardless of who may feel left out. We tag photos of ourselves with friends because we happen to look particularly good in them (regardless of how our friends come off looking). We are overly cynical, sarcastic, and even downright mean at times, determined to express whatever angst is going on inside us at the moment, unfettered by doubts about the value of such comments. In this way, Facebook pushes our “monarchy” button and makes us feel entitled to say and do whatever we feel like in the moment. And why not? Again, we are mostly rewarded for such behavior. But “life-alienating” is how Rosenberg describes this form of communication and for good reason. When we deny responsibility for our words or actions – either willfully or carelessly – we effectively depersonalize our friends, dismissing their thoughts and feeling as less important than our own. And of course, we are diminished in the process.

The Church of Facebook, p. 201

Summary: The Church of Facebook is a look at how online social networking is changing culture and impacting human relationships. Author Jesse Rice draws upon science, psychology, sociology, theology, history and culture in an attempt to better understand the ramifications of what Clive Thompson has called “the most significant intergenerational cultural shift since rock n’ roll”. This reads like a Malcolm Gladwell book as diverse anecdotes are weaved together to form compelling arguments. The author shares with the reader ways to navigate the tricky waters of an increasingly online world.

Some of the issues tackled are:

  • The link between connection and happiness
  • What Facebook reveals about our desires
  • The impact of continuous partial attention and hyperconnectivity on relationships
  • Adjusting to blurred social roles and audiences that might not normally be co-present
  • What is community and can it be found online?
  • Identity
  • How to adapt thinking and behavior to accommodate the rigors of an “always-on” environment
  • Improving the quality of our online and in-person relationships

Rice is a Christian, but wrote the book with the intention of including everyone in the conversation. Also, though Facebook is singled out in the title, much of what he writes can be applied to other types of online connections (e.g. Myspace, Twitter, Blackberries, iPhones).

Positives: It is probably not much of a surprise that I loved this book. Like the author, I have a Master’s degree in Counseling and curiosity as to the healthiest ways to utilize social networking. Apart from finding the subject matter fascinating, Rice is hilarious (watch some of videos below to see what I mean). This is one of the most relevant and timely books that I have read in a long time.

Negatives: The last part of the book offers some great practical suggestions, but I wish there had been more. Also, this book unearths the size of the iceberg, but it is just a start. The treatment is not comprehensive, but it gets the ball rolling.

Rating: 5/5 (Content and style really reminds me of Malcolm Gladwell.)

Jesse Rice is an author, musician, and counselor. He lives in Portland, Oregon and is married to Katie, who is also a musician. He has a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Santa Clara University. This book was provided for review by David C. Cook. To learn more about or purchase this book on Amazon, click here. You may also want to check out the book’s website where you can also find the author’s blog.

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Comments (2)

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  1. Janahun says:

    mark. i want this book. can i buy it from you?

    • Mark says:

      My Christmas gift was kind of lame, so this one is on the house and in the mail. Check out Jesse’s blog, too. He is funny (and nice)!

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