Social network may need net-full of social work

As one of the first of my friends and family to own and operate a computer, I swore I wouldn’t give in to using the vast window of knowledge as a lazy and unattached source of meager social communication.
When MySpace became The Latest, I felt posting one’s pictures and decorating their “space” to fit their style, send of humor, and mood was disgustingly self-serving, a tool for only the vain to use and then only those who had way too much time on their hands.
When Facebook made its ascension to the technically-savvy-society’s norm, I saw it as a mindless way to waste one’s life away — until my BFFs both told me about all the people they had found from their pasts. Initially, I reasoned, “Why would I want to reconnect with people I didn’t feel compelled to make a conscious effort for to keep in my life in the first place?”
Then relatives began swooning over the new way to connect with one another while I stood firm asking “Is So-And-So’s phone out of order?” or “Couldn’t you just ask them the next time you see them?” Needless to say, a non-conformist by nature, I wasn’t impressed.
My friends are people I’ve had in my life since I met them, because not only do we share the same sense of humor, but they have impressed upon me for one reason or another that they are unique, good-hearted, honest, and strong individuals. These people have been by my side (and I theirs) through thick and thin — and I’m not talking about the numerous failed attempts at weight loss.
One friend I’ve had since I was 21, another since I was driving my first car and the third, since Asteroids first began wasting away my allowance at 12. These people have no need to ask for my permission to befriend me. They simply earned the privilege of that title.
Nowadays the term “friend” means anyone you may have not felt immediately inclined to choke that has come across your path. Facebook has also brought about the transformation of the word “friend” as a verb.
I got hooked against my will and have since realized there is good and bad to the network.
On the good side, I found people I used to know and learned about what had happened to them since I had last snuck out of the house with them in the middle of the night. I saw photos of them, their children, their pets, their hobbies, and learned more about them than what I had known from being around them for years on a regular basis.
I also remembered why some of them didn’t make the “friend” cut to begin with.
Facebook helps me remember who’s birthday or anniversary it is. It helps me learn things about my children I didn’t know. It helps me to make decisions about where to go for dinner, what’s going on with my favorite television shows (that I can’t find time to watch), and I regularly find something that makes me laugh or cry. I receive Amber, Silver, and Emergency Alerts. I find news tips and am reminded about a commitment or other that had almost slipped my mind.
I’ve found things I dislike on Facebook (hate is such a strong word): People who brag about how many friends they have. I want to ask them, “Sweetie … would they help you move? Would they lend you money? Would they watch your kids at the drop of a hat — and would you want them to?” just so I can assist with the moral descent of their self-implied grandeur.
What I’ve also learned to dislike (but much closer to hate) are people who obsessive-compulsively note everything they do and every question, situation and meal they encounter. You post photos of several pairs of shoes and want people to vote which to wear? Make a decision for crying out loud! The world in general has more important decisions to stress over. Better yet, buy yourself a magic 8 ball for those totally-tough conundrums.
You have an invitation to a party, wedding, or other event? Don’t post it on your wall; call me; send an invitation to my mailbox; or at least send me a stinking text.
Asking what movie to see is a good reason to poll the virtual social planet but asking what the 10 things people like most about you is not. For telling a large number of people you know why you weren’t at this event the other night, Facebook is great. For telling people what you did at the bar last weekend — or trying to find out — via Facebook … not so much.
I’m now pretty sure that most of the people I know are featured in at least one chapter on dysfunctional living in a basic Social Work 101 ... myself included.
Admittedly, I have fallen into checking my wall several times a day to see what’s the latest gossip and to fill my laughter quota for the day. Sometimes it takes a photo or comment to brighten my spirits. Other times it simply takes a person telling the cyber world how terrible their day was because they couldn’t decide which earrings to wear.
And yes, sometimes I like to be a little self-indulgent and know that I’ve made someone else laugh, or learn, by something I’ve typed or posted by their “like” indication (which to those that don’t know, is a little thumbs-up icon). But Tweeting and Pinteresting (other recently-made verbs)? Sorry, nope. I have better things to do with my time … like going on Facebook and seeing what everyone’s having for dinner.