Blog entry

Are U My Friend? Part 1

Adobe stock - social media

Just saying … On November 3, 2017, we felt the loss of Facebook for a while as the social media’s website was not available. I grieved, but I remember how I got hacked years ago…the Facebook story goes like this …

It all happened when my former Christian friends and I were attending the California State Fair. We were all sitting on benches eating weird, (but great!) fried food concoctions. As we gathered around the table, my friends started talking about this great website called Facebook.  A few of them had joined and were friends on Facebook. They were having a conversation I had not been a part of because of their Facebook connections. I felt left out. They began noticing that all of us were not privy to the conversation because we were not connected on Facebook, and encouraged all of us to create accounts and friend each other.

Despite the challenges of my integrating back into the community, my intuition told be me this might not be good. I suffered from mental illness and was quite shy. Over the years, I had enjoyed wonderful face-to-face interactions with these Christian friends. They did not know I had suffered from a serious mental illness and had been isolated for years. I was still learning how to live in the community, work full-time, and find friends.

Again, it was about 2011 and people were just beginning to talk about Facebook. My friends felt it would be a great way to connect with each other when we were not engaging in face-to-face Christian single events. I was very excited, and I went home and created my Facebook account. I started finding my friends and friending them. We started talking to each other by posting pictures and comments.

Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane, authors of “Growing Up Social: raising kids in a screen-driven world”, sum up what my former Christian friends were probably starting to experience:

Often screen time leads to something pleasurable like an email bearing good news or a funny photo. A squirt of dopamine is released, and the intermittent reward keeps you coming back for more…the gratification comes from the click…this rush of responding…can be addicting”.

The sad part is that the friendships began to change, and I believe my former Christian friend’s use of Facebook, i.e., screens, lead to socially limiting behaviors.

One former Christian friend began to show how conservative he was on Facebook. He began a Christian crusade to save us all from sins. Another close Christian friend and I stayed in our face-to-face relationships for a few years. I would go to Thanksgiving dinner with her, her daughter, and other friends. They subsequently moved to Arizona to live with their family. Once they came back to Sacramento and they used Facebook to map their journey, but we had no contact when they arrived in Sacramento. I saw another Christian friend a year or so ago at the movies. We talked about what we saw on Facebook. It felt awkward speaking face-to-face. So, to recap, my former friend’s initial thoughts were that Facebook would make us all better friends. It did not, but there could have been other factors that tore the friendships apart.

What could have been those factors? I think one factor was that we got to know each using Facebook. We saw each other behind the screen. We questioned, “Wow! Is that who you really are, and do I really want to be your friend in a face-to-face situation, again”. One last factor was, there were no guidelines. The guidelines could have included trying to see each face-to-face.

Well, now, I have my own guidelines. I have learned how to use Facebook in a positive and healthy way. I only post the following, as I always get positive and supporting likes and comments:

  1. My artwork
  2. My exercise routine

I have learned to only read and like a post when I want to read and like it. I have let others join my Facebook friendships. I friended former co-workers or people I have met and want to build a business partnership with. I have a few Facebook friends who I met at art school. Finally, I have found some family members “using the screen” so to speak!

When using Facebook, I now ask myself the following question before confirming a friend request, “Are you really my friend?” My answer to this question, because of my wellness regimen, must tell me, “Yes”, before I confirm the Facebook friendship. I do this because my wellness goal is to maintain my mental health by making sure I had or will have some face-to-face interactions with these people. It must be more than just screen time because its … all about that hope!

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References

Chapman & Pellicane. (2014). Growing up social: raising relational kids in a screen-driven world. Northfield Publishing: Chicago, IL.

Fox News Interview with Sean Parker, former Facebook Executive:
http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2017/11/09/former-facebook-exec-sean-parker-says-god-only-knows-what-its-doing-to-our-childrens-brains.amp.html

HotHardware Interview with Sean Parker, former Facebook Executive:
https://hothardware.com/news/former-facebook-president-sean-parker-social-media-exploiting-human-psychology

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