Maybe you’re the same? I get teased a lot about my Facebook use. But not by people who get it.

Five years ago, I was in a miserable marriage and experiencing phenomenally low energy levels. I wonder now if I was bordering on depression. I had a nine year-old, a six year-old and a two year-old, and my life pretty much revolved around them because I had to choose to do one thing well. I was 43 and experiencing some intense bleeding as part of peri-menopause and my iron levels were teeny as a result, I was seriously sleep-deprived and I was trying to convince the world I was right about everything.

I was prickly to those who annoyed me and many people annoyed me. I was very, very fragile. I was trying to keep my boys protected from some  intense dysfunction within their wider world, and ensure they felt loved but not entitled. I felt isolated and I had some serious self-development to do. I had baggage I needed to sort out. It wasn’t my fault I was in this state but it was my responsibility to change it.

To be clear: I have many dear friends in real life and lots of things I can talk about. I am interested in stuff. But most of my people are busy parents who aren’t always available. My interests have always been eclectic, so finding those who can sensibly discuss things I want to discuss is rare, when in survival mode, it was impossible. Personal development wasn’t new to me but it was on the backburner because there was no space in my head. So I joined Facebook, and it began.

Have you changed after using Facebook? It may seem weird to those who haven’t had it as a lifeline. I did. I found one mini tribe after another that shared my interests: I could be part of a group that got *this* but didn’t have to know *that* about me. I was given new information and new skills to learn. I became more circumspect about whom I told what. I could chat with people at 5.00am or 12.00pm, when no one in my real world was around. I had proper fun for the first time in years. I learned to laugh and tease and flirt with men, and to put in boundaries to maintain greater self-respect, and not be fazed when people didn’t resonate with me and ghosted. I learned a lot about speaking in a way that I could be heard and listening to understand, not to respond. I learned about some really alternative ways of looking at the world.

I learned to be the me I had been before other people had convinced me to be something else that suited them. I ditched the shell and found a spine.

And the response has been outstandingly positive. My sense of self has soared. I have slowly translated all my new self into the real world and am loving life in a way I could never have predicted. I am healthy all round. How about you? Does your online life reflect your real life? It’s an interesting thing to ponder.

As things do, this has cycled around: I am now faced with the reality that some of my online people are Trump people and therefore, not my people. The internet has limitations: no tone of voice, no body language, no instantaneous vibe to resonate with… or not. Interpersonal cues take longer to decipher. It’s a curious thing and I understand why those who don’t get it, don’t get it. In the end it comes down to this: I value my mini-tribes in ways that anti-Facebook people will probably never understand. Cheers to you all and a heartfelt, thank you.

What’s your Facebook experience been like? Are you even on Facebook?

 

 

Karyn Wills

Karyn is a teacher, writer and solo mother to three sons. She lives in the sunny wine region of Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand in the city of Napier.

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