Social media takes a lot of shit for being a big, fake stage on which to present a big, fake version of yourself; and that it actually discourages real connection between people. Which is why what I’m about to say is going to be counter-intuitive: Facebook makes me a better person.
No, really, I’m serious.
And not just because it reminds me of the birthdays of everyone I know (which is fucking helpful, cuz I can barely keep it straight even amongst my immediate family, and there’s only 5 of us). It’s WAY more than that.
For one thing; It lets me ask for help, which is something I have difficulty with, or even talking about really. I’m terrible at asking for or accepting help. Something about needing to be independent, mixed in with a fear of rejection and topped with a sense of guilt like I’m a user. I try to remind myself everyone needs help from time to time, that even if I don’t get the help it doesn’t hurt to ask, and that accepting support from people who want to give it is not “being a user”, but it’s still really hard. Facebook lets me ask for that help (without anyone seeing how it takes me an hour to compose the post and that I only do it when I can’t think of any other options) — NOTE: Special thanks to Steve Brooks, Ken Nolan, and Michael Asante for jumping in with offers of monitors, mine is now a smoking heap on the floor that produces no image, just a shrill whine and a bad smell.
It helps me stay accountable. If I post that I’m going to have a blogpost/video/new song/etc out by such-and-such a date, I have a record of that staring me in the face, and a group of people who will ask me when it’s coming down the pipes if I don’t live up to it. Not in a judgemental, finger-wagging sort of way, but lots of gently encouraging reminders 😀
It allows me to connect with people even when I’m feeling wildly anti-social. By “wildly” I mean that my mood swings are extreme, and rapid, and that even I can’t stand being around me when I’m like that. But I can sit in my room (curled up with my knees at my chest on my computer chair) and clutch a cup of tea or hot chocolate and connect through my computer. That way I can have my distance without being isolated, and not feel like a dick for abandoning my friends and family at the same time.
It also allows me to stay connected with distant friends, and to connect with people I simply wouldn’t even know otherwise. Some of my most cherished friendships are with people that, because of geographical distance, I couldn’t have even MET, let alone carried on daily, or weekly conversations. People like Richard Widmark Jr. of the RAW XPERIENCE (Follow him if you like: he’s super-inspirational : http://therawxperience.com/).
It lets me connect DEEPER. It takes a lot of hours to get to know someone in person; they have to tell you about all their stories, all their thoughts, dreams, worries, etc. But my feed is FULL of your thoughts, abundant with your worries, dreams, failures and triumphs, and that lets me share in your life in a way I probably wouldn’t have the opportunity to otherwise … After all, can you imagine trying to actually tell a story about yourself to as many people as can be reached by a single Facebook post?
And it lets me help others. I’m can’t always support with my dollars, but I can share; I can set up GoFundMe or Kickstarter campaigns, I can put donation buttons on our website, I can tweet to raise awareness of community events, I can share share the fuck out of someones latest creation, or “In need of …” post to give it bigger reach/hopefully get that person whatever it is they need. It lets me be a listening and sympathetic ear and all (and odd) times of the day, even when I’m at home in my pyjamas eating sesame snacks (ty Jessie)
All I’m saying is that it’s a tool, and like any tool; it’s all in how you use it.