Has Facebook made your life better?

I resisted Facebook for a good while, but finally got a profile back in 2009.  Since then, I’ve often thought about the above question.

What got me pondering this today, though, was an article in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (“Amish learn value of networking”).   Amish are using social networking to market their products, with the help of third parties.  PA Amish farmer and co-op member Aaron Schwartz explains:

“We’re farmers. This is what we do and what our families have always done,” Schwartz said. “But we knew nothing about how to spread the word about what we’re doing, and we could only distribute as far as a horse and buggy would take us. This has really changed everything.”

What has changed things is partnering with an English marketing team, as Amish often do.  The Amish involved are careful to maintain the lines, though:

The co-op has started a Facebook page and has a Web site. Though members understand the need for modern technology to communicate, they aren’t always comfortable with it, Bartels said. A brochure for the Community Supported Agriculture initiative indicates Clarion River Organics prefers that subscriptions are paid by check or cash and that people sign up for the service via the mail instead of the Web site.

“We’ve had some difficulty figuring out how to meet the customer’s expectation of online presence while respecting this group’s aversion to that,” Bartels said. “The decision has been to make it clear that none of the farms are directly online, and we don’t put personally identifying information online that would give any impression that the Amish farmers are involved in the Internet.”

So while Amish aren’t yet starting Facebook profiles en masse, it looks like the social tool is at least making business better for some Amish.

We English of course use Facebook in the same way.  Companies promote themselves on ‘fan pages’.  People sell products, promote causes, and push traffic to websites all through Facebook.

But Facebook is first and foremost driven by the idea of connections between people.  We friend each other, and can now ‘like’ just about anything with the click of a button, instantly sharing with our online pals.

facebook life better
Poppa Wesner, hard at work?

It all sounds pretty nifty.  But has Facebook made life better?  When I first got on, I was amazed at how many old friends popped out of the woodwork.  Friending someone on FB even led to a real-life meeting or two, with people I hadn’t seen in ages.  A good thing, I would think.

It’s also a handy way to shoot someone a quick message, even easier than email in some cases.  Or share photos–I viewed shots of my uncle’s obliterated yard after the tornadoes in Raleigh, NC, last month.  It was pretty neat to see photos of my Dad cleaning up the next day, in near real-time.  And so on.

Facebook of course has its critics.  Rather than connecting, it’s actually pulling us apart.  Substituting on-screen relationships for “real” ties.  And if you’ve ever been sucked into a “Facebook vortex”–clicking from one link to the next–you know how much of a time-eater it can be.

Maybe it’s a question of drawing lines.  Aaron Schwartz and co. may have the right idea.  It’s easier when your community is all on board, though.

For me, the jury is still out.  What do you think–is life post-Facebook better, or worse?

(And oh yeah–if you enjoyed this–don’t forget to “like” this post below!)

(…and the Amish America FB page!)

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    1. Florence


      You can count me in the negative column for Facebook. I just don’t get it. There are too many real people to know and too many real things to do.

    2. Richard


      I tried face book 2 times, only to get bored with it literally minutes after both were created. So now i have no face book account. Don’t get me wrong i know a lot of people find these social networks’ useful, its just that i don’t. And on some Amish being on the internet, most that I’ve come across will have someone create and operate their business web site. Some English are turning that into a business with the Amish, taking phone calls and processing orders online for them. Some Amish that I’ve talked to are on the fence with the internet. Richard from Lebanon county’s Amish settlement.

    3. Magdalena

      I recently blogged about this over at Anglican, Plain, with “Facebook as Christian Community”. I have a good community of facebook friends, including Amish and Mennonite friends who are in districts that allow electronic communication. I’ve learned to be careful about who comes into the group, that they do not upset the dynamic. I am known to be a bit ruthless about deleting “friends” who are not truly friendly! My biggest issue is that people scan their friends’ friends lists and “friend” me because they are looking for “Amish” people. I blame the growing genre of Amish fiction for this. While we all know that Amish life is quite different in many ways from that portrayed in fiction, some people are still fascinated and quite romantic about the life of the Amish. Of course, I am not Amish! One young person was surprised to learn that not only wasn’t I Amish, I was ordained in my own denomination. This person had friended me based on a photo rather than on my profile.

    4. Tai Johnson-Spratt

      3rd party marketer

      This one really hit home for me. Having been a farmer for the last 10 years and a business owner with a marketing background, I identified two needs within our community. The first one was that I could not produce enough products to satisfy the demand. The second need was the opposite in the Amish community. They can produce more products than they can sell because of logistics and electronic restrictions. The two fit like a glove. I am currently helping the Amish market their products to customers in the state. We use websites, facebook, twitter and online co-ops to sell products for them as well as face to face sales with stores and farmers markets in the metro area. We do all of the electronics, distribution, sales, and advertising for them as these things are out of their reach. I don’t know if using facebook has made life better but the extra sales and marketing presence from these electronic venues has certainly increased their income due to the additional sales. While they don’t actually do the electronics themselves they understand the value of it “out here”. I really enjoy working with them because of their ethics and values. I really couldn’t enjoy working with them any more than I do…guess I will have to post that on Facebook.

    5. Alice Aber


      I love facebook for a lot of reasons. First off, I talk to “real” people. It is a way for me to keep in touch with friends and family all of whom are far away. And I would not get to see otherwise. It has let me reconnect to old high school friends which is wonderful. BTW this year will be our 35th reunion. I have lots of cousins on my facebook. They are all “real” people!!

      Then I also promote my business on facebook and on my blog. I also have a business page on facebook. Networking today is a very valuable tool for a business. And I see nothing wrong with it.

      I do not spend all day on facebook but I will pop on several times a day when I have the time. I will usually get on there to check messages or send a few.

      Has it made my life better? I would say it has made some things easier. For example, my oldest brother is 65 and lives alone. He is not in the best of health. He does not have a computer and does not have voice mail on his phone. One of my friends on facebook lives next door to him. If I can not reach my brother on the phone I send Rocky a message on facebook to check on my brother. It has paid off, one day my brother was quite ill and could not get to the phone. Rocky went to check on him for me and wound up calling an ambulance. By the way, my brother lives a thousand miles from me. So that was a big help.

      There are some that go over board on facebook but for the most part, most people use it as a way to keep in touch, share photos and happenings in their lives especially with those that live some distance away. I also have friends on facebook from the same town I live in. We all live busy lives today, facebook makes it a bit easier to keep in touch.

      Blessings from a “real” person on facebook,

    6. Kevin Lindsey

      I guess the jury is still out on fb for me. I did join it, as our grown children tend to communicate with each other that way, and it is nice in that sense. And I have been in contact with some people Ive lost contact with. But I dont friend or request friend very much, and I really am not good about keeping up to date with it. I tend to drop in on it only when I remember to, or if I get a notice that someone contacted me. I guess Im a bit leary about how much I want to put out on the web!

    7. Marta Perry

      Keeping in Touch

      I enjoy Facebook because it keeps me in almost daily touch with my kids, who live at a distance, and my nieces and nephews, who live even farther away. I get to feel a part of their lives, and that’s important to me.

      However, it is a time sink, and I make a point of checking it no more than twice a day.


    8. Christine Lutz


      Count me in as another who enjoys FB! Coming from a very small family, growing up military, now living a rather isolated life, FB has allowed me to stay connected with friends and make new ones.

      My parents & son passed a few years ago, I’ve no other family other than my daughter. I am blessed to live with her small family, but far from home – a city where a car was not required. We now live in a small city without buses or sidewalks and I do not drive, so it is a bit isolating.

      I did not like FB at first, but it has allowed me to connect with other like-minded people, as well as old friends. I’m able to check a few times day, respond or send messages and even read Amish America from my FB page! I love being able to see photos of life events in my friends’ lives.

      Wanted to say how much I enjoy the posts here – although I rarely post, I read every day. Thank you for wonderful stories and articles of “real” Amish and other Plain sects. From childhood I felt a connection with the Amish and their simple, almost monastic way of life. I entered a monastery as a young woman, but those in formation were asked to leave during a difficult and confusing time after the VAT II Councils. My life remained deeply spiritual and am a monastic at heart. So, that’s a little bit about a mostly lurker!
      Take gentle care and Blessings on your day!

    9. TomK

      twitter, facebook, etc is the communcation of the future as more and more young ones stay to themselves in their little white cubicals eating soylent green and playing virtual war games…

      Next big thing will be projected 3d floating holograms

    10. Facebook, phone, email

      Christine, feel free to lurk away, or comment as much as you wish 🙂 We’re glad you are here and thanks for sharing your positive experience with Facebook. I’m enjoying all of the comments by the way–it’s interesting to see the range of responses and different experiences people have had.

      I’ve started to think of Facebook as something like the telephone or email (maybe not quite to that degree, but heading there). It’s a communication application that is so common that it may one day soon be more unusual to not have a Facebook page than to have one (if we’re not there already).

      Don’t quote me on that prediction, but it does seem to have filled a communication hole–a convenient online tool which offers more interactivity and visual features than plain old email.

    11. Karen

      I like Facebook. My son is 12 years old and has been fighting brain and spinal tumors off and on for over 5 years now. Facebook is a great tool for meeting other parents who also have children with cancer. It is a place where I can “be” with other people who really understand because they are going through the same situation. Of course, it can be time consuming also. I try yo just pop in and out unless I am on a break at work or if my kids are already in bed for the night. I agree with you Erik, it is like its own unique communication forum.

    12. Christine Lutz


      Karen, I am so sorry you are going through such a difficult time with your son. I will hold you both very enar in heartfelt prayer each day.

      God Bless!

    13. Shawn

      Mostly, I don't like it...

      Although it’s fun sometimes, it also is troublesome. I agree that it replaces real ties with families, such as the Amish blame on technology. I’ve been estranged from my four kids for quite some time now, and I don’t see that FB has actually helped. At times, it seemed like a good free connection to stay in touch, but in the long run, no, it led to more problems than if we had simply met in person and tried to iron things out. The same thing with telephones. Since I’ve been debating on becoming Amish myself for quite some time, I decided to let my phone service expire to see what it would be like, and I’ll admit, it was kinda nice. No stress. I kept in touch on FB. Then, my son urged me to get a telephone again so that we could keep in touch, so I did. Now, not only are we not speaking on the telephone anymore, but he has also blocked me on FB. So, I’ve decided I’m going to phase out on the technology again. I’m planning on letting my phone expire next month, and as for FB, well, I think that’s going to come to an end real soon too. After all, when you really think about it, are all those people on your list TRULY your friends? It seems to me like a race—to see who can collect the most “friends.” Well, I think choosing true friends is most important and building my FB list isn’t what it’s all about. Besides, the Bible says that too many friends will ruin you. So, I think I’m going to rethink this whole technology thing cuz really, it hasn’t proven to me to be of any benefit, really.

    14. Ann

      I like facebook because I can always keep in touch with friends and family and know whats going on in their lives. I can send pictures to them. I can chat and talk with people I know any time of the day or night without disturbing anyone .

    15. Dena

      I like FB. I’ve reconnected with friends from High School, I can keep in touch with people I knew in other areas of the world-we’ve moved a lot as my husband is now retired USAF. My family is spread out across the world and with FB we can share stories, photos, etc.

      To Richard, you really have to spend more than “literally minutes” to learn how well you can utilize FB. Give yourself a month of using it once a day, figuring out how it all works, etc. and then decide if it is something that works for you or not.

    16. Alice Aber

      Karen - and FB

      Karen, please know that I am keeping your son and your family in my prayers. Trust in the Lord with all your heart.

      FB- Like anything there can be excesses. Yes there are those that go over board just seeing how many “friends” they can have on there. But then there are those of us who use it responsibly. Nothing can replace close personal relationships, but when you are far from your family and friends it can be a great tool and comfort to know it is quite easy to keep in each other’s lives even at a distance.

      Blessings, Alice

    17. Christina

      For me being a Navy wife and being stationed far away from my family, Facebook is great! It’s easier to keep up with people and I’ve re-connected with some old friends from high school. We had a foreign exchange student when I was in the 11th grade that we lost touch with…I found him on Facebook and we have re-connected! Plus, it’s fun to see where all my Navy spouse friends and their husbands end up and it’s fun to see who my high school friends have become and how they’ve changed over the years.

      I am very picky about who I friend though. I usually only accept a friend if I know them personally, like we’ve been introduced face to face first.


    18. Eli

      I had a good time coming across some people I haven’t seen in a long time. About two years ago I just stopped getting on and haven’t been back since.

    19. Mona

      LOVE,LOVE,AND LOVE FB…..it is so cool to be able to talk to your relatives and friends, share pictures, recipes,news about the family and talk anytime you want to and disturb no one 🙂 I only friend people I know or know of through a friend….I’m not in a contest to see how many friends I can get on FB, this is the least of my worries…..love the internet and love to SKYPE my granddaugher in another state and my son in another country…..it is really neat and like FREE is the best part….as for people knowing all your business, only put out there what you want people to know…..FB keeps me up to date with my relatives and love receiving all the pictures from them….Richard I think you should give FB another try……once you get the hang of it, you will not let it go……absolutely LOVE it………………..

    20. Richard

      Karen i love when you used the word “fighting” as I’m sure your son is a fighter. I think a lot of people including myself can learn a thing or two about living from your son, and he’s now in my thoughts. Regarding face book, i think im still old school with all of these social internet sites.Don’t get me wrong, just because I’m not into them does not mean i want to stop anyone else from it. For some like your son Karen i definitely see the need to have face book, and I’m glad you son is keeping in contact with family and friends. For me anyway, things like texting and too many e-mails have taken away that personal touch away that we used to experience not that long ago. I think nothing beats a face to face or a phone call at least, so i feel kind of detached when i rely on too much of these technologies.Richard from Lebanon county’s Amish settlement.

    21. Matthew

      Not FB for me. Perhaps because I’m involved in IT on the business side of things, I see the inherent risks with these types of sites. Perhaps its because I’m a private individual, and I don’t want nor need my information out there for the world to see. And perhaps because I see Facebook – and much of the internet – as a huge time waster. Remember what the scriptures say about idle chatter?

      Truth is, there’s already more than enough ways (read that too many ways) for people to stay in touch with me if they choose to do so without me needing another way to lose even more of my security, privacy, or precious time.

    22. Michael Esposito

      Comment on "Has Facebook made your life better?"

      In a nutshell, here’s how I view Facebook:

      Advantages: 1.) An effective way to communicate with family and friends. In some instances it’s the best way to keep in touch with relatives (especially in my very large extended family). As many of them are on Facebook anyway, a message to them is more likely to get read than an e-mail that competes with spam and tons of other e-mail messages from legitimate sites. Also, when a family member or friend makes a major move, you can still keep in touch with them.
      2.) A great tool for expressing one’s interests. I like sending information on issues, events and cultural matters.
      3.) The old pen pal system, multiplied exponentially. You meet people from all parts of the world and can have meaningful conversations with them.

      Disadvantages: 1.) It has the potential to be a huge time waster, which means that it has to be used with self-discipline. Only go on at designated times, keep track of the amount of time you’re on, and get off when you have to. Also, put strict limits on trivial conversations. I especially don’t like playing games that are available on Facebook.
      2.) Facebook seems bent on mining one’s personal information for its benefit and will add subtle changes that will compromise your privacy without advising you. In this case we’re dependent on all our Facebook friends to be vigilant for these changes and communicate them across their networks so that we can change our settings.
      3.) People often forget exactly how open Facebook is and share personal information that should never go on a public site. Someone wrote that sharing information on Facebook is the equivalent of posting a note on your front door. In reality, though, it’s like posting multiple notes on the front doors of hundreds, maybe thousands of people.

    23. Facebook negatives

      Matthew, well said. Your time point hits home. I guess I view it like any tool–depends on how you use it.

      Michael very good points too. I would only quibble with #3 in the negatives. A note on my literal front door will definitely get seen by me. A Facebook posting just gets shoved down people’s ‘walls’, and quickly, the more posts come in. But still you are right, it is out there.

      I do think there is something about Facebook–and we can probably say this about the internet in general, especially when you read the comments sections on some sites–that relieves people of their inhibitions.

      What’s interesting about Facebook is that there is usually a real identity and often a photo behind the postings, right there in front of you. So it’s not just a nasty blog comment left by someone using a screen name, cloaked in anonymity.

    24. Suzanna Laitinen

      I think facebook is or can be what ever you make it. If you pay attention to what you do, it can be very enjoyable. I will not post personal things about myself and family, if there is an issue with another person, I will not air it for all to see. That is between you and them, and should be handled face to face. But if you follow proper ettiquette, you can get alot of enjoyment out of it. I have only joined facebook in the last year, but I haven’t had any negative experiences. I caught up with some old friends that I’d fallen out of touch with, I’ve made new friends that, although I’ve never personally met them, we have built nice relationships together, and give each other positive reinforcement, and a shoulder to lean on. As with anything else nowadays, you just have to be careful.

    25. Al in Ky.

      I think we must be very discerning in our use of the computer
      for social reasons, especially the amount of time we can spend.
      I often ask myself the question, “What did I used to do with
      the time I now spend each day using the computer?”

      It reminded me of a writing I read in the book “The Amish in
      Their Own Words” compiled by Brad Igou (Herald Press, 1999).
      On page 253 he includes this written by E. Stoll: “We are
      asked, ‘What! You don’t have TV? What do you do in the evening?”
      … Once again, it would make more sense for us to reverse the
      question, and be asking, “What! You mean you have time to just
      sit and watch TV? … When do you get your work done? When do
      you visit your friends? When do you read good books? When do you
      tell the children a story, or help them play a game, or put a
      puzzle together?”

      I think in today’s world it would be interesting to substitute
      the words “use the computer” for “watch TV”. It makes me wonder
      in thinking through issues like computer usage, it might be helpful
      to have a community of faith/Ordnung for help in deciding what might be best for us as individuals as well as a community.

    26. Elin


      I hate calling and I find e-mails too formal and boring so facebook is great for me. I can tell my family 280 km away about my life without having to call 1 sister and 3 brothers and then some cousins and the nieces and nephews that have moved away from home. If I just post an update they will all know without me having to start this chain of calls. I can also chat with them if needed if they are online instead of calling. I have one brother who hasn’t facebook but I usually tell my sister to tell him if I have told them something important like when I got engaged this month. Why do I not call him? Well, as I said, I hate calling and I am trying to force him or his wife to get facebook…

      Has it improved my life? Yes but I could live a happy and fulfilled life without it for sure.

    27. Al, great point. As you wrote, this is the question: “What did I used to do with the time I now spend each day using the computer?”

      Still, I guess the computer, net, etc is here to stay, but being conscious of it is one step in keeping things in check.

      Suzanna I think the lack of anonymity generally helps etiquette, but not always. But having your photo and name attached to your comments is definitely a civilizing force.

      And Elin I don’t know about Facebook, but way to bury the nice news deep down in your post–congrats on your engagement 🙂

    28. Elin

      Thanks Erik!

      Though it must be said it was a very unromantic and practical engagement which will hopefully lead to an equally practical and simple wedding. We have rings (here in Sweden both the guy and the girl get a ring) but other than that it was more a decision that we will have a wedding at the latest next summer. At the moment it is just the choice of a very small or a small wedding that needs to be settled. No bridezilla here, I don’t care about matching colors or custom-made dresses. As long as I get a cermony and a party with some great food I am satisfied.

    29. Alexandra


      I recently moved to a new city and I didn’t know anybody. Of course, when someone was introduced to me, I would go home and friend them on Facebook just like any other teenager would. I was bored one day on Facebook, and I began chatting with a boy I’d met at church. We had a great conversation, and we became real friends because of Facebook.
      Facebook is also how I am able to communicate with him as well as with some of my family and friends. I recently found someone on Facebook who used to be my best friend until I moved (6 years ago).
      I believe that Facebook has made my life better, despite all of the time that I waste on it.

    30. Alexandra


      And I forgot to say: That boy is now my best friend, and I have built many other true-to-life friendships through Facebook. Facebook is how I talk to my sister who is in college, far away from me. Facebook is often what brightens my day, because people post things that are amusing, or a random page with a funny title will pop up to the right. No matter what anyone else thinks, I believe that Facebook has completely made my life better.