Recently, one of my friends lost it.

I’m not allowed to say her name. In fact, I shouldn’t even be writing this. (Let’s face it. These things get pretty ugly.)

There she was. Minding her own business. Learning how to use the iMac I gifted her.

And in the dark of the night, by the soft light of her office lamp, she discovered something that unveiled a disturbing truth of which she was heretofore unawares.

She learned that in spite of all the energy healing, psycho-therapy, acupuncture, reiki, meditation retreats, and Byron Katie’s “Work” she had done – there was still some deep-seated darkness within.

Gasp!

Was it eTrade?

Was it porn?

Was it another Palin Couric interview on YouTube?

No!

It was more heinous than this.

It was…

Facebook!

(Insert chilling music score here.)

And it got worse.

My friend soon discovered that this is the year of her 20th high school reunion. Suddenly, she was getting poked and prodded. She was getting beads, snowballs, green beers and group-requests hurled at her from her past – a past she would just as soon forget.

In a spell of deep unconsciousness, she got sucked in. Facebook became more than a social media site. It became a source of self-flagellation. After she tucked her daughter into bed, she’d sneak into her office, log on to Facebook, and turn her self-worth over to the glow of the computer screen. She tried to remind herself of her own successes and happiness and healing. But before she knew it, she was overtaken by a virus that is sweeping our computer culture and randomly taking over the minds of perfectly wonderful human beings.

I call this virus, “The How’m I Doin’?s.”

The “How’m I Doin’?s” will take over your head and convince you that your self-worth is based on how you are being received by the various forms of social media on the internet. Twitter, Match.com, Facebook, FriendFeed, or Blog Stats. Name your poison. The “How’m I Doin’?s” will hunt you down in one of these places. They will find you. You might even be embarrassed at how easy it is to fall prey to this virus. (My friend was horrified!)

I’ve coached people through the Match.com “How’m I Doin’s?” I’ve helped friends through the Facebook “How’m I Doin’?s.” In my first year of blogging, I saw myself go through the Technorati “How’m I Doin’?s.”

And I’ve learned that there is only ONE REMEDY for them. That remedy is simple. (But not always easy.) The remedy is DECISION.

Decide for yourself right now that you are doing great.

Decide that no one is above you or below you.

Decide that numbers are not worth.

And decide that no matter how many followers, friends, subscribers, links, tweetbeeps, notifications, stumbles, feeds, comments, RT’s, or diggs you have – you are simply FABULOUS.

(I officially dedicate this blog post to my friend, who shall remain nameless and fabulous.)

40 COMMENTS ADD A COMMENT
  • sonali

    yeah these social networking sites are like virus haha. i opened so many accounts just to be in touch with my old school friends long distance friends and now it has consumed me (m happy i forgot most of the sites passwords 😀 ) bt facebook is a virus its become habbit or say 1st thing in morning thing. i am happy i am slowly trying to get rid of that virus 🙂

  • Khady

    Thank you so much for this post. Ahhhh…I need a cure lol.
    I basically started timing how long I spend on facebook. It helps a lot.

    I am looking into starting a blog. Well actually today is the day and I came by to search for tips. This is one of many that you have posted.

    I am just nervous about taking that first step.

    Thank you thanks thanks!!

    Khady

  • Pat D.

    As with any other activity that we spend time doing, moderate it according to your own preferences. Facebook has some nice settings so you don’t “poop” on other people’s pages. It’s an easy setting to modify. That way, when you post something, it doesn’t sprinkle all over everyone else’s page that you are a friend with. It’s the polite thing to do. I did it and my pages are much cleaner, more friendly. I never send out those invitations for applications either, unless I know for certain someone I know will like that feature. You also don’t have to invite anyone to share the app with if all you want to do is get to the “results” or “score” page. There is a link that skips the invitation part of it.

    Using Facebook, I check in with old friends from college or my past. It is one of my very few social outlets…I live an hour away from town and get lonely all by myself. My divorce is new and not living with someone suddenly after 21 years is daunting. I’ve had to face many a demon…but NOT on Facebook. I watch probably 3 hours of TV a week, and Facebook…less time that that. It’s about making the decision to spend your time mindfully.

    I wake up each morning and put GOD first….I do my meditations and morning rituals with no computer or TV on. After my meditations I tend to my indoor and outdoor pets. Only then do I turn on the computer, if I turn it on at all. If I am home on a weekend and have been doing yard work, I’ll come in for a break and check Facebook to catch up with my friends and family, and let them know how I’m doing. Again, it is hard to be all alone out in the sticks with no one, even for one day. And I LIKE being alone!

    It just takes practice and you will know when the time comes to shut OFF that computer. 🙂

  • Slices of Beauty

    Hi Christine,

    Fabulous post!
    Timely and priceless for me (new blogger!).

    Thank you.

  • mka

    You preach it sister! That’s a big amen from me in the front row.

  • Sabina

    I agree! Lately people have been spending so much time on Facebook sometimes it’s like a virtual world like a reality … Little things such as oh she deleted me or he walled her is now a big deal …

    Just my thoughts .. great post 🙂

  • Diana

    I was invited to join a friend’s Facebook page and did so. I didn’t put any personal information on it. I’d drop in once in awhile to read the stuff people put on her page but decided after awhile that I didn’t want to spend time with it and didn’t want information about myself on Facebook. She and I were emailing each other regularly anyway and I only knew a couple people on her friends list.

    She then defriended me for not participating. Then she kept sending me invites to see stuff on her Facebook page. Then, when I told her I didn’t care to participate, she put blocks on my email address so I can no longer send her personal emails, nor will she accept phone calls.

    When I mentioned the incident to the teenagers in my life, they were aghast and said I was the equivalent of a social pariah – which caused me to chuckle. Perfect.

    What more can I say? I’m thrilled to be a cyber outcast. Reminds me of when my friends and I kicked my sister out of our game and then later found her baking cookies with Mom. They then took the cookies to an elderly neighbor for a tea party and left us home to our own game which was no longer any fun. My friends went home and I was left by myself to be chastised by our very perceptive dog who refused to hang out with me. Huge lessons there.

    When I find myself missing my friend and wondering what is going on in Facebook, I just go to the kitchen, make a cup of tea and have a cookie. I raise the cup in her direction and say, “Cheers!” As Byron Katie says, we need to find the place where we are happy to be with our very best friend in the whole world – ourselves, and I have to admit, I am. (Sometimes I have two cookies, just for the fun of it!)

  • Lara

    Just the words I needed to read today. As always!

  • Gabrielle Javier-Cerulli

    Christine – Thanks for the bit of advice:) Nice to know I can have some control over my facebook account.
    okey dokey…see you on facebook soon.

  • Christine Kane

    Gabrielle – there are HUGE benefits to having a biz and being on facebook. You just have to go at your own pace and be *militantly* on your own side – and ignore any snarky people and their snarky comments! (Also – you can set your profile to not alert you to a lot of the stuff that might be triggery!)

  • Gabrielle

    smiling and shaking my head. i’ve ventured into twitter…but keep wavering over facebook. i really don’t wanna but EVERYONE keeps telling me that since I am opening my own business that I HAVE TO facebook and if i don’t then i am missing out on OPPORTUNITIES. and i don’t wanna do that either. *sigh*

  • Jannie Funster

    It was all just so much easier in the Michelle and Romey pre-Internet high school reunion days!

    My experiences with Fackebook have been so wonderful because I’ve reconnected with a lot of cousins, some second and thirds I never even knew existed. Mom’s from a family of 10 and Dad 8, so it’s made for a lot of joy.

  • Sloane

    Hysterical!!!
    I signed up for Facebook and was on it less than a month…then I shut it and MySpace down. The whole thing creeped me out and dredged up a lot of old insecurities. Maybe I do need to face it but not on Facebook!

  • Christine Kane

    Thanks ann!

    Go Mimi!!!

  • Mindful Mimi

    I’m fabulous and I don’t give a rat’s a.. about the opinion of others.

    Feels good to write that down.

    Thanks a bunch. Wish me luck on my creative workshop Monday – which will be a success thanks to your encouraging words.

  • Ann White

    ps – I just watched your utube: There’s no such thing as girls like that and this middle age (58) year old rabbi is now a big fan — off to itunes to download on my ipod. (see how techno I am becoming. You Go Girl! (see how dated I can be?)

  • Ann White

    Just when I think I can be technically savvy – here comes something new – twitter or whatever. I know the world is changing, but thanks for your blog to remind me that we do indeed have choices. It is an exciting time to be alive — but I need to buckle up for the ride!!!

  • Giulietta Nardone

    Hi Christine,

    Thought-provoking post. The on-line world can be fun and I like to respond to some of the more insightful blogs. I’ve just taken a personal vow to spend more time interacting with people face to face, like the people in my local community. In person conversations seem to be a dying art, yet it’s what keeps us human and honest. I feel more courageous when I look people in the eye and speak my truth.

    Thx!

    G.
    Dare to be different! Dare to be you.

  • Christine Kane

    Wendy (and everyone!) — As with pretty much everything in life – it’s about YOU, not about what’s out there. Facebook isn’t evil in itself of course! It’s just that things like this can bring out our “stuff.” Our “stuff” is a great teacher to us. I didn’t tell my friend to ignore facebook and run away because it’s evil. I don’t advise bloggers to stop blogging when they get obsessed with their stats. ALL of it provides AMAZING lessons to our hearts and souls. (YES, even if you didn’t love your high school experience!)

    As always, thanks for the insights everyone!

  • Chris Brown

    Twitter follows. Technorati authority. Feedburner subscriptions. Why is it a number that quantifies how we’re doing instead of a word… or a feeling? I’m thinking t’s time for me to stop looking at numbers and start feeling the sunshine on my face! Thanks for your post!

  • Wendy Maynard

    I guess it all depends on your high school experience. I absolutely love reconnecting with all of my high school friends via Facebook. I feel like after 20 years, I can just pick up right where we left off. And it is so awesome to see all their kids. I also enjoy my new online friends. I know what you are saying about the “How am I doing thing?” though. It gets me in other areas of my business.

  • Ingrid

    Christine, I love your clarity. I love the way you tell it like it is. Love your music too! My daughters and I have been enjoying your live cd in the car for weeks. Thanks so much for everything you do. Gosh, here I am telling you how you’re doing! Your last few posts have helped me strengthen my resolve to say NO to facebook for at least a little while longer. Thanks!

  • Connie Rose

    Also decide that you simply don’t need all those social media sites. They’re enormous time wasters. A good blog is good enough!

  • Caro!

    Funny how life works. 10 seconds before reading this article I was obsess over the statistics on my personal photography site Flickr and wasting my precious evening stocking friends on Facebook. Thanks for reminding me that I have an actual life outside of my Mac and that I should rather spend my afternoon playing outside with my dog.

    See ya!

  • J

    I am so glad you posted this! Someone had to ! Everyone I know has one, and they spend hours…once I was a girl’s night and we got on to “see how fat everyone from HS had become”. I felt awful. Then there were the profiles of all the people who looked they were doing “fabulous” that left me feeling “Wow. What am I doing?” Anyway, the whole thing is a virus…I totally agree.

  • Catherine Cantieri, Sorted

    I’m a little ashamed to admit it, but, the main reason I visit Facebook? To play Scramble. Social media FAIL. 😉

  • Emily

    I’ve been on Facebook almost since it started – I started as a way to keep in touch with friends across the country and it’s great in that way because I really don’t like to talk on the phone much. FB has changed a lot in the last couple years with all the applications and “stuff.” (most of which I ignore)

    I do like that FB has added friend lists in the last couple years – so I can put all those people from high school that I really don’t care about getting in touch with on a list and limit both the activity they see about me and the activity I see about them. This has been fabulous in helping keep me from getting sucked into old dramas and insecurities!

    I did have to get really clear on my reasons for using FB – and decide that it was OK to frequently hit “ignore” without guilt and choose to interact only with those people I am truly friends with.

  • creativevoyage

    what I like about twitter is that you can meet people you DON’T know ! But its like the crack cocaine of the internets once you start you cant stop!

  • Kathy

    I was doing fine with all of that and enjoying catching up with all sorts of people from my past until I got defriended by one of my high school friends. I get that not everyone wants to share in someone else’s positive take on this bad environment and that there are those worse off than me in the “how I’m doin’s” for whom “gloating” about new red shoes (even if they were bought at 1/3 price at an outlet center) might send them over the edge but getting defriended hurt! I got a raft of responses to my defriending post – some less than sensitive to what my former “friend” might be going through so I have ultimately deleted the defriending post and all it’s comments. But not before going through a bit of a self flagellation over it. Thanks for the post and hitting the nail on the head once again. I’m back to having fun finding people and communicating with those I’ve lost touch with on FB.

  • Faith

    What I find fascinating about Facebook is the high school angst that came back when I found myself dealing with old high school classmates that I haven’t dealt with on a daily basis in almost 30 years. I found myself craving the same acceptance that I craved back then, and was surprised at how quickly that bubbled up! There’s one person in particular who I leave on my friend list simply as an exercise for myself — can I ignore his posts? Can I comment on his posts without getting all uptight about it? Can I comment without -him- getting all uptight about it? It’s been an interesting experiment…

  • jess

    Can your friend befriend me on Facebook?

  • Marie

    Ugh. I am not a fan of Facebook. Got on it recently when a high school classmate invited me on. Now I have 60 some “friends” – about 3 are actually “friends” and the rest are HS classmates and professional colleagues (oh YAY – our practice got a page and we are all “strongly encouraged” to become Fans! – so now I really can’t post anything that isn’t straight vanilla – actually we’ve all solved this issue by not updating, posting or visiting much at all).

    I’m being evil and passive aggressive about FB and I love it – I “might” sign on once a week. Maybe not even that often. And I am willfully and gleefully IGNORING pokes, prods, polls, 25 random whatnots, etc. Keep asking me for my 20 favorite hair band songs – I won’t even bother to respond!

    Basically, FB is evil, and as soon as I can slip away I will. The amount of time I see certain HS classmates wasting on it was enough to scare me straight within my first week on the site.

    I’m also on LinkedIn professionally, consider it nearly worthless, and also never visit. I don’t get these sites – and since I get an email notifying me of messages, updates, etc. (most of which I ignore) why would I visit more often?

  • Teartaye

    Heh. I got the Facebook virus bad.
    Then one day I just kinda snapped, and deleted a bunch of friends and all the groups/applications I wasn’t getting anything out. And I’ve been whittling it down even more since then.
    I went from checking it daily to almost never; from trying to be more popular to trying to keep it just about people I actually care about.
    It was a great feeling.
    It is kinda funny though: I resisted even getting a facebook for so long, then I was immersed, now I’m recovering.
    Good luck to your friend. 😉

  • Christine Kane

    That’s SUCH a great quote, vic. Thanks! 🙂

    and yes, lance – i like the call of nature better than anything else!

  • Vic

    I paused and observed the virus at work on me, then remembered this Kurt Vonnegut quote:

    “True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.”

    All better.

  • Lance

    Hi Christine,

    Like jenqau – me too! Your tweet pulled me in! What does that say???

    First place I went this morning? Twitter. Second? Email. Third? Facebook.

    Calgon take me away! Wait…that’s not the right place for me either!

    Call of nature, take me away!!

  • JenQau

    urgh, plus I was directed here by your tweet!

  • Christine Kane

    Elizabeth – having one life works for me!

    Stacey – good for you! i think facebook is like that mirror in harry potter – where you look in it and see exactly what scares you. obviously – you’re doing fine with this stuff!

  • Stacey

    I had no idea there was such an insidious virus out there! Luckily, I seem to be immune to it – I got a Facebook account and enjoy it for keeping me in touch with far-flung friends (especially my friend in Italy who occasionally posts 15-30 second videos of her adorable toddler) and that’s it. I get “friend requests” all the time from folks I don’t remember from high school or college and I “ignore for now” and don’t give it a second thought. The funny thing is that I will get repeated requests from these folks. I’ve never understood it, but now I get it – they’ve got the virus. 🙂

  • Elizabeth

    Yep, yep, yep, I hear yah. Facebook got me, not doubt about it. My account bears my real name and a real photograph of the real me. Yikes!

    But even that wasn’t as bad as finding out that I only have a First Life, when just about everyone else has a Second one…

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