I am in a dysfunctional relationship with Facebook.
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This week we have been writing about your Facebook relationship status (plus a little Oscar stuff). It is all well and good to announce your status on the Facebook but what if your relationship status is that you are in a relationship with Facebook?
Paul says: I need to give you a little science research ‘cus that’s what I do. First, did you know that, if you go to the American Psychological Associations research database and type in Facebook as your keyword, you will get at least 306 results? I was a little surprised with that. Apparently, the white-coats with the lab rats have been busy researching all of our social interaction on the web.
One of the studies, by Sheldon, Abad, and Hinsch published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, showed that people on Facebook simultaneously feel more connected to others and more disconnected. For their definition, disconnected is not the opposite of connected. Connected on Facebook means that they have positive interactions in the online relationships and disconnected means that the interactions are lacking or unappreciated. This study shows that we use Facebook because making friends is positive and rewarding but we keep using it because we feel that we are missing something or not being good friends when we are off-line.
This is all well and good if I have 12 friends where I remember each and every interaction as something beautiful and touching. But I have 348 friends, some are close family and others are people that I have never met. My Facebook relationships blur into one big series of me holding the cyber-hair of generic Facebook friends while they vomit on my computer screen. Yes, I am in a dysfunctional relationship with Facebook.
We use the relationship status, the profile picture, a poke, and the little quiz that says ‘Paul just answered a question about you’ to make us stand out in a crowd of words. Facebook has a double edge to it. On one hand, we are communicating with people that we did not know how much we missed and loved, people that would have dropped off of the face of the planet had this been the pre-internet days. On the other hand, all relationships are the same, or they can be if we are not careful.
My relationship status is Married to Lee Reyes-Fournier. Her name is hyperlinked to her profile that also says she is Married to Paul Reyes-Fournier. At least I hope that it says that. I think I’m going to go check and make sure it doesn’t say single and searching for a lover who can write. Anyhow, I can glean insight into her day by checking her profile status, not the relationship status but the place where she writes what she is thinking. If I am finding out about her state of mind from the relationship status then things have gotten pretty bad. She actually sends me little love messages that I do not get until I logon to my account. I can see who pissed her off while driving to get the kids. Is this bad? No, not if it done properly. Not if these messages are part of the whole system of communication and not just another series of words to be glanced at then ignored. Let’s face it, if I poke her, it means something. Wink, wink.
Lee says: As a psychotherapist, I love the beauty and simplicity of Facebook. When you have an account, you are saying, ‘I am open for a relationship/friendship’. I like the term ‘Friend’. It is the loosest interpretation but at the same time it forces an intimacy. If people are not ready to share your day with all its gore and swear words then they can simply un-friend you. No drama. Just a click.
The same holds for love and lovers. An open declaration is healthy and never complicated. Complicated is drama. I don’t do drama. This is why my 1800+ friends will never see me change my status to ‘It’s complicated’. If it ever became complicated between Paul and me, my friends may see, ‘Bitch got arrested for murder’ instead of that. Like I said, I don’t do complicated.