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To be or not to be...on Facebook

girl with smart phone ( near Sanctuary Christian Counseling in Shippensburg PA





Social media. Most of us have some strong feelings about it, one way or another.

I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. Several of my closest friends and family are not or are no longer on. I'm pretty sick of the ads and "fake news" myself. But it's the only way I see anything from some of my other friends and family, and I do appreciate seeing their humor, achievements, creativity, updates, and so on.

The problem is, that open sharing. That blessing in disguise. Or maybe curse in sheep's clothing. It's not really anonymous, unless you have a fake profile (which opens up whole 'nother can of worms). But it's not really face to face either. And the usual filters that govern face-to-face interactions don't always activate when we are looking at pics and typing.

Facebook and other social media is "responsible" for an incredible increase in bullying and teen suicide. "Facebook depression" is now a thing. Google the term and you'll get millions of results, lots of articles, mostly negative, including this study by the Harvard Business Review:

But we know that, right? Social media feeds one of our greatest needs, which is why we're hooked. We need to be connected, and we know that we need social interaction to be healthy. In our fast-paced, disconnected world, social media helps us feel like a part of a real family/community/social group. But it also feeds one of our greatest weaknesses: our really bad habit of comparing ourselves to others. Most of us at least some of the time (and some of us all the time) judge ourselves and our place in life by where others are, in terms of relationships, money/stuff, kids' activities, freedom to adventure, what have you. It also, as mentioned above, removes the normal social filters we have when conversing face to face. It's hard to be degrading or downright rude when you have to look another person in the eyes as you speak. As it should be.

Is it a necessary evil? A handle-with-care blessing? Each one has to decide for him or herself. I strongly encourage everyone to give some thought to social media use, as with anything else in life. Here are a couple of my thoughts.

1. Be aware. Be aware of what you are doing while on, and how you are doing it. Be aware of how you feel as you scroll through the feeds. Does it uplift and encourage? Or make your mood plunge into the basement? And what about your kids? What are they doing and how? How does their use affect them? (I firmly believe parents/caregivers should monitor internet and social media use as long as the children are in their care, no exceptions.)

2. Know how to say no. Set boundaries on social media. If someone is disrespectful (or worse), don't be afraid to block them, unfollow them, etc. Restrict your profile and your (and your kids') use as needed to maintain appropriate boundaries. This includes sometimes saying no to your own desire to post or comment - THINK! (Is it true, helpful, inspiring, necessary, kind?)

3. Be adventurous. Not on social media, but in community. Are there other ways to connect and engage? Can you get your needs met in other, perhaps healthier ways?

Above all, make thoughtful choices. Don't be afraid to be different. Social media is meant to be a tool, not a trap.

Happy posting!

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