Once upon a time, organizations like Freemasonry were one of the most common forms of entertainment. Fraternities and community organizations offered a getaway from the daily routine and a chance to network with individuals that a person might not typically meet. Regardless of how much Freemasons talk about the necessity of education in our lodges—which is an issue that I regularly address—the truth is that the success of Freemasonry and other organizations is largely attributed to the fact that men are social creatures.
It seems that every time I attempt to answer the question “Why are you a Freemason?” I try to answer it by talking about my desire to seek self improvement through Freemasonry’s philosophy and allegorical lessons. But after stumbling through a long dissertation on that particular subject, I almost always come back to an easier reply: “Because Freemasonry has given me the opportunity to meet and associate with men of the finest character.”
Since I have become a Freemason, the constant focus of the Masonic organizations that I have been involved with has been how to attract new men to the fraternity and bring Brothers that don’t attend lodge back to our meetings. Many Brothers blame the fact that there are many other forms of entertainment available in today’s society. There is a lot of truth in this assumption because the way that people socialize has changed with technology. There was a time when a man would have to join an organization like Freemasonry in order to have a place to go and converse with other men sharing the same interests. Now, people can get home from work and plop down in front of the computer to spend an evening on Facebook.
I have heard a lot of my Brothers claim that the people who would rather spend time on Facebook or any other form of social media than come to a lodge meeting don’t know what they are missing. But what are they missing? Let’s take a look at what Facebook offers. There are no awkward introductions with Facebook, if you want to add someone as a friend you simply have to click your mouse. Anyone that has filled out a petition for Masonry knows that it can be intimidating to be the “new guy” and many seasoned Freemasons have to admit that visiting an unfamiliar lodge can make you feel like you don’t fit in. When you lose contact with a friend on Facebook, it is simple to write a brief message on their wall or check their status. If you lose contact with your Masonic lodge, it can sometimes be difficult to stay up to date with all of the lodge’s events. Finally, Facebook offers each person the ability to proudly show off their individuality. A person can proclaim everything about themselves on Facebook and show who they are as an individual. Unfortunately, our lodges don’t always offer this same opportunity to our Brothers. We show up, conduct our meeting, and leave without giving us a chance to show who we are or learn about the lives of our Brethren.
So when a man must make a decision between spending an evening on-line checking up on all of his Facebook friends or going to lodge only to make awkward conversation with somebody he doesn’t know very well and be just another Mason sitting through another lodge meeting, which one will he choose?
Maybe our lodges should be a little more like Facebook. Maybe we should spend a little less time having meetings and a little more time socializing. We should spend more time getting to know who our Brothers are, what they do for a living, and what they do for fun. The more we learn about our Brothers, the more likely it is that we will find that we have something in common. When we have something in common, we might just find that we can have a more interesting evening at the lodge than spending an evening on Facebook.
Let’s make sure that our lodges are reading and writing on the figurative Facebook wall of our Brothers’ lives. Let’s make fellowship and social networking a focus in our fraternity.