Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Facebook: Friend or Foe?
"When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand."Henri Nouwen
"One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood."
Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Welcome back to me! Hope you didn't miss me too much, and I promise not to be away for so long again. It has been a month filled with work, social engagements, wedding planning(my lil sis), catching up with old and new friends, yogaing, meditating, acupuncture, thrifting, editing, dieting and on and on the list goes. But, no more excuses.
On to the good stuff- I finally found something to write about! One of my addictions and guilty pleasures: Facebook.
It is no mystery that there is a lot of debate about the worth/value and validity of Facebook and other social networking sites. People complain that they don't want to hear about how many lattes you've had, or what amazing thing your kid did, or how much you hate Obama or guns. Everyone knows social media and the internet are changing social behaviors and norms. No one wants their kids attached to their phones and iPads day and night.
But alas, here we are and what is to be done? Accept, embrace and use it with moderation much like everything else? Hate it and destroy or bastardize it like every other thing else? Let it die on its own till something better comes along?
Who knows? I don't have the answer, and truth be told, in the greater scheme of my life I don't really care about "el que diran" (what they'll say) about el Facebook.
What I know, is that Facebook and other social networking sites like it that I have connected myself to, have been the saving grace to the psychological and emotional struggles I've been faced with while trying to manage my illnesses.
If I had been diagnosed with scleroderma or lupus "back in the day" in my early teens, I wouldn't have known where turn. All I would know of support would've been my family. And as supportive, loving and wonderful as they are, no one truly understands what it's like until they've lived it. Facebook, has provided me with the support system needed to emotionally, and psychologically survive chronic illness.
I have been able to connect with and meet people from all over the world struggling with various auto-immune diseases and ask for advice, offer support, share recipes, medication advice, laughter, tears, joy, setbacks, progress and dreams. Something that was close to impossible even 6 years ago when I was first diagnosed. (I know this because I desperately tried to find others like me and only found 2 people who emailed me)
With blogs like my own, FB pages, websites, online support groups, Skype etc., I have and know an amazing group of people at varying stages in their illness and recovery that I know I can talk to when I just need a someone who understands. Someone who isn't going to judge me or question my pain. Someone who isn't going to tell me it's going to be ok cause hell, it might not be, and they know that from experience. Many someones who have put their whole life on hold (my age and even younger) to give themselves the time they need just to feel better.
And, I know, is everyone's status update their reality? Probably not. But I sure as hell do appreciate that THE most positive people I know are the ones going through the worst hell. They're my sclero family, most of whom have undergone some form of chemo, transplant(organ and/or stem cell), physical therapy etc. and are still smiling in every picture, praising God every morning, and checking in on ME at least once a week. My chronic illness and auto-immune buddies give me strength when I have none because I know I'm one of the lucky ones. I finished college. I've been able to work. I found someone to love me. I can afford my meds and the best doctor's in the country. I breathe on my own. I walk on my own. I still have the use of 90% of my hands. They haven't given up, so neither should I.
Has Facebook and Twitter made us all self-involved and self-important? Perhaps. Does posting your every thought, meal, and bowel movement really matter to anyone? Not really. Have we created a culture where privacy is obsolete and common decency a thing of the past? Maybe.
But at the end of my day, when my muscles are sore and my joints ache, if I want a warm smile or an encouraging word, all I have to do is open my laptop and log on. And if that's the only thing Facebook is good for, that's good enough for me.