Obsessed with Facebook?

Not too long ago, someone told me I was “obsessed” with Facebook.

Initially, well, I was kind of insulted. After all, I’m not one of those people who document every move I make, every meal I eat, with a post. I was fairly active on the site, but no more so than most of my friends.

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Then, something happened. It wasn’t anything really serious, just a bad situation that left me feeling rather isolated and alone. It wasn’t really a big deal, in the scheme of things, but in my little world, it was a doozy.  It was one of those times you just feel down for a while, one of those situations where family really helps.

The problem for me was we don’t have nearby family — or so I thought. Like so many other people these days, we moved away from our families and long-time friends, establishing a life in Mustang. Of course, we have friends here, and good ones, but we don’t have the luxury some people have in living in the community we were raised in.

And that’s where Facebook comes into it. That’s why maybe I am obsessed with social media after all.

Facebook can certainly show the best and worst of people. Some interactions are — for lack of a better word — horrendous. It’s terrible to see how people can treat each other, from the anonymity of a computer screen. But it can also be a very positive thing. It helps people reconnect, allows friends who are separated by distance overcome that and interact more often and with more substance. When’s the last time you wrote a letter? Facebook helps people share who they are and what’s important to them.

And it was through that online connection that I learned just how lucky I was, how much support and what kind of friends I was blessed to have.

You see, I wasn’t alone — not in the fact we don’t have family nearby and not in dealing with a difficult situation on my own. Without even knowing what was going on — or even, really, that something was going on at all, friends from long ago were joined by people I have never met in person in showing the true meaning of caring and friendship.

People were there for me in a way it’s difficult to describe. We’ve all seen it — individuals gather to offer encouragement and support, prayers and words of advice. The interesting thing about this wasn’t the response of my long-time friends, people I grew up with and who know me. It was those people I’ve never met or barely know, those whose knowledge of me comes completely from what I’ve written (and the silly photos I’ve posted) on a social media site.

It was those people who made me realize just how alone I was not. Were they sitting right there with me? No. But, there were plenty who offered to, who said they were there in spirit and would be in person, if that’s what I needed. They helped me work through a bad situation, but they also did something more — they went beyond their own lives in a way some people never do.

That’s the beauty of something like Facebook. It gives us the ability to touch someone’s life in a positive way, offer them support, encouragement, a light where they might not have seen one. It doesn’t matter if someone is facing a health issue or a family matter. Maybe they’ve lost someone, maybe they just need prayers, need to know there is someone who cares and is thinking of them.

Most of us feel empathy. We see a story that touches us and we might “like” it or make a comment. But, we can move beyond that and remember that the best of who we are can be expressed through our interactions with others. Even if those interactions come through a computer screen.

Our society has changed since I was a child and even a young adult. Many of us are more spread out, we have moved far beyond where we started or even where we thought we might go. Look at the impact the internet as a whole has had on our lives and our jobs. It can be negative, surely, but oh how positive it can be.

For me, I want to work to help others more – through volunteering, community service, giving back for a life that’s truly been a gift. But, what I can do – and what we all can do, every day – is let someone know we care. If that’s all Facebook and other social media ever is, then it’s a pretty darn good thing. And, yes, I’m obsessed with that.