The trouble with so many of us is that we underestimate the power of simplicity.
This feels like I'm about to go public on something bordering on blog heresy and family treason.
Facebook is the current social networking phenomenon that appears to be sweeping all before it. Only today on BBC News, mention was made of the number of hits a Wolverhampton tramp had received on his site. It seems a physical home is optional, but a Facebook syber-home is a 'must have'. Personal evidence for this is that, from what I can gather, all my children are on Facebook and I've just received another invitation from a friend to join.
Yes, the sad truth about me is that I'm not yet on Facebook.
From time to time a son or daughter tells me that they are aware of a sibling doing such-and-such or is feeling thus-and-so because of their Facebook. I met a client delegate last week who said she made it her business to get an invitation from her son to become her Facebook 'friend'; it took a while for him to comply while he did the Facebook equivalent of tidying up his room before the invitation was forthcoming!
So am I missing out? Probably. Well, shouldn't I 'get with the revolution'?
No, thanks. This is for reasons not directed at Facebook in particular. I am sure it is a very good piece of technology that brings all kinds of happiness to those who use it. And if I were criticising Facebook per se I would be doing so from a position of some ignorance, wouldn't I?
My reasons are more generic, both negative and positive, and apply equally well to why I don't have a Blackberry or an iPhone either.
Negatively, I fear such technologies will make further inroads into my already too-fragmented life. They will make demands on my time at inconvenient moments. Like adding a cuckoo egg to my nest, in time it will hatch into some growing, voracious monster, demanding more and more from me. I fear it will displace the quality and energy I commit to more conventional but deeply rewarding social networking: the small group of people I meet with weekly, for example. We 'do life deeply' together, and we do it the old-fashioned way by going to meet each other and sharing a real, not virtual, Java.
Positively, I decline Facebook invitations for a pursuit that is more deeply counter-cultural: I want to live more and more by the spiritual discipline of Simplicity. Like other spiritual disciplines, superficially it looks like denying oneself something; but at a deeper level it enriches the life of the disciple. By denying myself otherwise good activities and possessions I find I de-clutter my day and my thinking so that I can pursue and focus upon what Stephen Covey calls, "That which matters most". I've come to value 'thinking time' as crucial to staying focused on the important. Whereas when I react to email, IM or phone calls, I find I am doing just that - reacting. The more I can shift my life onto pro-active, simple focused thought and action, the more the quality and effectiveness of my life improves.
So, if you are generous enough to invite me onto Facebook, MySpace or whatever other social network, please don't take offence if my response, sad as it may appear, is, "Thanks, but no thanks."