Yes, it is!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Good and Bad of Facebook

This post should have been published earlier but I'm just now getting to it.  This is a topic that I've been thinking about for some time, especially during these past couple of weeks.
When I first signed up for a Facebook account, I rarely used it as I was not too much into social networking.  I probably checked it every few months.  But as time went on, I started getting friend invites from people I had not heard from in a very long time.  In fact, some of them were people that I never thought would want anything to do with me as an adult.  At first, I was selective of who I accepted as friends.  I really didn't want anything to do with those who were not very kind to me during my childhood.  But one of the first of those people, I surprisingly accepted as a friend.  I accepted her because I thought it would be a way of finding out why she was one of my worst bullies.  Perhaps get some closure.  Believe it or not, all these years later, I still still struggled with the effects of being bullied in school, not by just this one person, but by other students and even teachers.  But I am so glad to say that all is forgiven between me and this one person in particular and we are now good friends.  I truly believe she was sincere in her apology.  And I hope to get together with her in person sometime soon as she lives just a short day's drive away from me now. 
In a way, Facebook has been cathartic. Some of my "new friends" were kind enough to apologize to me.  It brought some measure of healing for me.  I've been able to forgive many of these people.  For those who took time to write to me and apologize or even let me know that they care, I very much appreciated that. 
My friend list grew slightly last year. Unexpectedly. See, last year  my husband took us to a new church to try it out.  He seemed to like it so we continued to attend that church.  However, I never felt fully accepted there and I'm sure many of those people probably thought I was stuck up.  The truth is that I was guarding myself from further hurt.  I was struggling with faith matters (still do), I was not very trusting of people's motives, I was just overall struggling with life.  I put on a tough front because I didn't want anyone at that church to see how weak I was. I already felt that I was being judged as nobody really tried to reach to me, in a non-judgmental way. Even though I felt nobody at that church really cared much about me, I started to get Facebook friend requests.  I even got brave enough to request Facebook friendships with a handful of other church people.  Some of the requests that I received actually surprised me.  I couldn't help but wonder what their motivation was.  Were they being nosy? Or did they truly care about me?  Was I going to be judged by the information provided about myself?  In an effort to try to get out of my funk and try to make friends, I accepted those who wanted to befriend me on Facebook.  Over this past year, it has been a little interesting getting to know some of these people via Facebook.  And I've come to have more respect for some of them.  However, there were a couple of them who seemed to really be into themselves.  So much so that nobody was as smart as they or their children are. Or as talented.  Or as confident. Or even as skinny or pretty.  It was a bit annoying to see how into themselves they were but I just started thinking possibly that it was their way of overcoming low self-esteem.  I don't mind the occasional bragging but persistent bragging gets to be a bit much for me. 
A few months ago, I "cleaned house" on my friend list. Mostly those I had no contact with any longer.  However, I didn't delete any church people at the time because I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings.  After all, most of them befriended me on Facebook so there must be a reason that they wanted to be friends.  However, I still didn't really feel a true friendship with any of these people with the exception of one or two people.
A few months ago, one of my blog readers (and FB friend) responded to one of my posts in which I shared about my religious upbringing.  It was a painful post but one that I felt I needed to share to perhaps help other people understand why so many of us struggle with faith issues.  At first, I agreed to talk to her but I never expected to become good friends with her.  After all, she was a pastor's wife and I thought she would just be too busy for somebody like me.  I was so wrong about her.  She has spent time listening to my spiritual concerns. we have enjoyed regular conversation (she's regular folk like me, lol), she has corrupted me by getting me interested in planting flowers and greenery (I'm far from being a green-thumb still), my kids have enjoyed swimming in her pool.  I have enjoyed getting to know her and vice versa.  I feel like she really, truly does care about me and my family and so many others.  Because of her (and perhaps God), I feel like I have experienced growth in many ways, including faith.  However, despite all of that, I still struggle with being completely happy at our current church for many reasons.  That's another post for another day.
A couple of weeks ago, it became very clear to me just how judgmental some of those people still are of me.  I had written a post about my disappointment that the July 4th holiday seemed to be completely overlooked, with the exception of a patriotic instrumental piece, during the church service that morning. I consider myself a very patriotic person and I was very disappointed that the congregation didn't get a chance to celebrate, at least in song, such an important day for our country. I didn't invite criticism from anyone else.  The blog post was just an expression of my own disappointment. You can read that here.
One of my now former Facebook friends (fellow church goer) read that post and left a comment on my Facebook page. Of course, religion was brought into it.  Apparently, she did not like my response to her because I am no longer her friend by her choice.  It's just as well because I never saw her as a real friend anyway.  Although I'm not hurt by her choice to "defriend" me, I can't help but wonder if I hurt her feelings.  Hurting others' feelings is not something I intentionally do but I am also entitled to my own opinion.  If that person is reading this, please accept my apology if I hurt your feelings.  But also know that those who leave opinionated comments, especially when religion is involved,  are at risk of my own comments, however kind or snarky. 


Just Jenny said...

Hi from bloggy moms.

I was also bullied as a child until the day I left high school. It was a terribly traumatic time and it left deep impressions on me. I DO NOT facebook friend anyone ever involved in any of that. So you are a bigger person than I :) I agree Facebook can become a major issue. You have to be really careful of what you say, etc., but don't stop being yourself, or sticking up for yourself. Sounds like you have a good head on your shoulders don't let these people get to you :)
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Samantha said...

Hi Jenny, I will definitely check out your blog. Thank you so much for your kind comments. I'm usually pretty quick to forgive but that doesn't mean that I also forget. I have learned how to really guard my heart, perhaps a little too much to the point that some people think I'm aloof, stuck-up, etc.