Exploring social networking: “Poke me, Sister”
By Ramsey Nix
I had avoided it as long as possible, but recently I took the inevitable leap into cyberspace networking. I joined Facebook.
I never intended to become a virtual peeping tom. I ignored every “sign up now” link that crept into my inbox. I scoffed at friends who described their “big night” catching up with long lost buddies through a computerized portal. In fact, I never even typed “facebook” until today.
There’s something creepy about digital rolodexes. With every virtual flip, surfers can gaze into the private lives of their colleagues, classmates and neighbors. With every new “friend” comes an entire network of potential “friends.” Whatever happened to the good old-fashioned cocktail party? Virtual networking is too direct, too clean– all mystery and nuance gets lost inside the coded language of the digitized world. It feels almost clinical.
As an editor trained in the old school of print media, I believe in gatekeepers. I trust them. Facebook, My Space, and blog spots break open the information floodgates. They open up a whole new sphere for untrained, unwitting journalists with personal agendas. No thanks. I’ll stick to the New York Times.
However, last Friday, while pursuing a possible story for my magazine, I met with a nun, a member of the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a woman who has devoted her life to serving immigrants living in poverty. Her story is fascinating, her life an inspiration. Sister has a Facebook page.
When I asked Sister Margarita how I might enlist to tutor some of her young charges, she informed me that Facebook would, indeed, be the best way to find her and to sign up on her list of volunteer English tutors. “Just find me on Facebook. Poke me, and I’ll poke you back,” she said with a face as straight as, well, a nun.
Stunned by her request, I asked no questions, offered no rebuttal. How could I express my petty misgivings against Facebook to a servant of God– one who faces incredible challenges every day in her efforts to serve humanity?
So I joined her network, and here I sit at my office desk, waiting for sister to “poke me back.”