My Love/Hate Relationship With Facebook

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My Facebook timeline informs me that I joined up on November 19, 2008.  Since then I have had a love/hate relationship with this social site.  I joined because my grownup daughters talked about it all the time and communicated a lot through their posts.  They also posted pictures that I would never have received until I became a user as well.

  • I love posting on their walls and downloading pictures.  It is easier for them and for me to be on FB because there is an easy, central location for sharing.  Of course, we have other communication resources as well nowadays, i.e. our smartphones!
  • I love finding old friends and keeping up with relatives on FB.  That has been fun for me, even if we don’t write lengthy private emails (something that we can also do on FB!).  We keep up with each other’s activities, and acknowledge life’s ups and downs.  I was especially pleased when my sister joined in May 2011!
  • I love the fan pages where we can like a movie, book, celebrity or television show as well as causes, hobbies or other interests.  Many of these likes mean updates and opportunities to share unique points of view or “funnies” on our FB page.
  • I love being able to link my blog to my FB page so that people who do not ordinarily read blogs can catch up with my latest posts.  I also like being able to share a post from a newspaper or NPR on my FB page.

There are probably more reasons I enjoy FB, but I can’t think of them right now.  This list covers the most important points, however.  To summarize the reasons I love Facebook:  it provides a template for sharing where I am in my life at this moment in time.  The new timeline layout does this especially well.

As far as my hate relationship, I don’t have that many to list.

  • I hate how it hooks into my childhood and teenage mentality.  I thought I’d grown beyond worrying about how many “friends” I have or how “popular” I am.  Unfortunately, no.  I’m not a highly social person and have never been, even as a child.  I always had one or two close friends and that was it.  I’m not shy, but I am an introvert.  The things I like to do are mainly solitary—reading, knitting, writing (blogging), needle felting.  People know who I am, but do not consider me a friend necessarily.  Nevertheless, in low moments I have looked for “friends” to fill out my numbers.  It amazes me how many friend requests I have made that have never been answered!  Then I wonder, “What is wrong with me?  I only have 35 friends, and so-and-so has 100!”
  • I hate the moments when I want to clean out my “friends” list.  What perversity!  I feel competition to plump up my numbers, and then complain about people who are not really “friends.”   I do have people on my list who never respond to posts on their walls or personal messages from me.  I visit their pages and they seldom, if ever, posted at all.  Maybe they are too busy, or they are only there because their kids are.  I think this urge to cull the list comes from the part of me that is so like my father—exactitude.  How can you call someone a friend if you never communicate with that person?  If that person never communicates with you?  One of my daughters suggested that people may like reading my page, but they don’t respond.  I think, “They could at least “like” a post or a status update!”  That’s what I do unless I don’t agree with or approve of a post.  In the end, I am who I am.  I review each person every few months and end up “unfriending” one or two.  I guess it is a good thing I don’t have 100 “friends” after all.

A few other reasons I have “unfriended” a person on Facebook, besides non-communication:

  • writing every post in capital letters–like they are shouting!
  • profanity
  • constant internet game updates

To summarize my hate relationship with Facebook—it is a social site and has its social ups and downs.  In the end, there are far more reasons to be there than not.

Now that you know about my FB relationship, you can friend me at:

https://www.facebook.com/mholiver

Maybe you have some reasons of your own for “unfriending” a  FB friend.  Please share!

Some blog posts that inspired this blog post:

http://www.blogher.com/9-people-you-should-unfriend-today

http://www.blogher.com/defriending-facebook

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“Do the thing you think you cannot do.”

(June, 1970) This photo shows me at the summit of Mt. Vesuvius.  The guide is demonstrating the steam against my leg.  I wouldn’t be on Vesuvius if I hadn’t conquered my fear of riding the ski lift to the top.  I had to ask myself, “How can I NOT ride in this chair lift?  When will I ever again get the chance to be on Mt. Vesuvius?”  I was shaking the whole way up, and jubilant the whole way down.

Looking back over my life, several of  Eleanor Roosevelt‘s quotes have defined me.  The one  that applies most to my personal development is the following:

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face… do the thing you think you cannot do.”

As a child and young adult I was somewhat withdrawn and shy around strangers.  I didn’t do well when thrown into an unknown situation.  I didn’t recognize my strengths and I had low self-esteem.  Only when I really, really wanted something for myself did I achieve.  Achievement required that I swallow my fear and put myself in a place where I might suffer failure.

I was a good student in junior high and high school because I was interested in history, writing and anything involving literature.  Those were my strengths and I could count on them.  My skills in these academic areas gave me the opportunity to go to an excellent selective small liberal arts college about an hour away from home.

Even though the school was small, the challenge of the social scene there, as well as  being away from home took away all my confidence and focus.  I spent two years in that school and then transferred to another school where the social pressure was less.  However,  it wasn’t until I heard graduation practice at the end of my junior year that I faced down my fears.  I can still remember sitting in the library and saying to myself, “No matter what it takes, I am going to graduate from college!”  I made up my mind, swallowed my fears and did it.  (The fact that I struggled with severe depression during this time will be discussed below.)  I applied myself, completed every class in my minor of English by carrying an accelerated load of classes, graduating in December, 1969.

This has continued to be a pattern throughout my life.  When I lived abroad during my first marriage, I was often afraid.  Sometimes I would say to my husband or a friend, “This really scares me,” and that individual person would help.  Or, I would hear someone say, “It scares me to go off the base into town,” and I would think, “Wow, she is missing so many wonderful experiences.”  Slowly, through the years, I found that grit and determination were a requirement for success. Facing down my fears…

Throughout my working years as a teacher, I  had to swallow down my natural fears as a reserved, quiet person, in order to meet new students, parents and faculty members.  Grit, determination, facing the necessity of the moment have all played a part in my growth as an individual.

That doesn’t mean life has been rosy.  It hasn’t.  Sadness and grief come and go.  I have lost people in my life and gained others.  All of us have to endure in order to survive.

The greatest failures in my life have led to the greatest successes.  My first and second marriages failed.  Each time I have had to pick up the pieces and rebuild my life.  I remember a wonderful poem I read when my first marriage collapsed.  The poet imagined building a wind chime out of mud–which definitely seemed to be where I was.  My second marriage was making lemonade out of lemons.  Rebuilding my life, patching the wounds–they were all important to me.  Living alone while my daughters were in college was a wonderful life passage–missing them, being on my own, discovering that I could enjoy my own company…and then finally meeting my soul mate, were all acts of courage as I swallowed down my fears.  I knew I deserved more and was determined to get it.

The last big achievement in my life so far has been the ability to stand up for myself in the face of jealousy or disapproval.  When I remarried for the the third time, I overheard people commenting on my remarriage–some people saying I was brave, others saying “how could she?” I had to learn to accept that I was going to do what I knew was best for me, no matter what anyone else thought.  I learned to depend on my own judgment.  Other women would ask me  why I didn’t find someone younger, or richer.  I had learned, thought, that I had to trust myself and  live by my own rules.  I knew what was right for me by confronting my mistakes, correcting them and knowing what was right for me.

Late in my teaching career, a rather naive teacher  made a rude comment about people taking antidepressants (which have been a saving grace for me).  In the past I would have just been quietly angry, but this time I turned to her and said, “I have taken Prozac since it first came on the market and it has changed my life.  It has saved so many people who are depressed.  You have NO idea what a difference antidepressants make.”  (You go girl, I thought to myself.)

On that same faculty, I finally learned how to face down “the mean girls”–you know, those women who never do grow up!?  They just go on spinning their webs.  When someone was mean to me, usually through sarcasm, or treacly sweetness,  or a wink and a nod, I threw kindness in her face. I discovered I was never going to win them over, but I wasn’t going to allow them to make me feel bad about myself.

Other recent accomplishments that came about because I faced down my fears and doubts have been finishing a memoir about my parents (300 pages), winning two poetry contests, teaching myself to knit, teaching myself to felt,  and now I am ready to begin some other new project–and I’m ONLY 64!  Woo hoo!

Joining up…

Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to reform. ~Mark Twain

Despite my age, there are some aspects of my personality that continue to amaze me.  One of them is the dichotomy between yearning to be accepted by a group and the suffocation I feel when I am.  I’ve always felt like an outsider, although I don’t think I am perceived that way. When I took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator many years ago, I was assessed as an INFJ, which means:

Introversion vs. Extraversion, iNtuitive vs. Sensing, Feeling vs. Thinking, Judging vs. Perceiving*

Since that is the least common type in the U.S. population, and allowing for my borderline results within half the dichotomies of F/T and J/P, it is no wonder that I find it hard to be a joiner.

Growing up an INFJ was not easy, especially in my childhood household.  I suspect my father was an I, possibly a N, and definitely a J. My personality resembled my father’s (I??J) more than my mother’s, but my father didn’t participate much in the intricacies of raising daughters, leaving it to my mother, who was probably an EFTJ.  She was mystified by dreamy, sensitive girls like me.  I discovered that I could please her by getting good grades and having some kind of social life.  In high school I joined the kind of clubs  she would have joined and held onto one boyfriend throughout high school so that I could be assured of invitations to dances.  I even joined her sorority in college, envying the GDIs the whole time.

I grew up in a religious family (Methodist), with various minister ancestors who preached their way west.  I liked the “belonging-ness” of church membership because it seemed safe, warm and predictable, even though I had abandoned my belief in the tenets of the faith by the time I was twelve.  Through the years I learned that belonging to a church   was constricting, demanding and definitely unsafe for me.  By the age of 45 I abandoned all pretext of declaring myself religious.  Politically I have yet to abandon my party affiliation, mainly because our country is so polarized and I don’t see how change will happen without working through the system.  However, I do not plan to use my blog for political statements, so I will simply define myself as a humanist.**

Despite the insights about myself I have gained, I know that I am still evolving as a person.  There are no easy answers to the Big Questions about existence.  I also know that working against who I am is fruitless.  I will continue to gain understanding and self-acceptance, enjoy learning something new, but I cannot be other than I am.  The biggest mistakes in my life began when I followed someone else’s drum beat, rather than the drum beat of my own heart.

*http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myers-Briggs_Type_Indicator

**http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?page=what&section=main