You Can’t Lie on Facebook, 2: On ‘Safe Spaces’

In my previous post, I discussed ways in which social media can foster mental illness, by allowing users to curate their social worlds according to their desires. And I discussed how social media demands limitations on language and perspectives. This post will continue by discussing the limitations of “safe spaces” in the social media setting.

People with certain forms of mental illness or distorted views of reality often gravitate towards online relationships, because such relationships are susceptible to the narrowing perspectives often sought in mental illness. We can condition and narrow online engagements to fit our perceptions of what we think reality should be. We can add or delete friends on a whim, and limit or block certain sorts of conversations we deem unacceptable or “unsafe.”

No real flesh-and-blood human relationships are like this. Real human communities and friendships aren’t susceptible to such easy curation. Entanglements and disentanglements of human life are complex and multi-dimensional, and will not bend to every inclination of will, whether good or bad. We cannot force reality to match our desires. Only a digital world can provide for this. Continue reading “You Can’t Lie on Facebook, 2: On ‘Safe Spaces’”

You Can’t Lie on Facebook, 1: The Language of Mental Illness

I increasingly raise an eyebrow at social media relationships, especially in the group context. I’m a member of a number of Facebook groups, for example, where people go for advice and emotional and spiritual support. People vent and ask for prayers. People share struggles and request guidance. But I hesitate to respond.

Facebook can never replace face-to-face relationships, because Facebook can only offer us words. And words cannot always be trusted. We all unwittingly lie, most of all about ourselves. And Facebook enables these lies, because our Facebook “friends” cannot tell us when our words don’t match up with our faces, histories, or habits. Only the friends of my flesh-and-blood daily life can tell me when my words are skewed, based on their experiences of me. Only these sorts of friends can tell us when our words don’t give an accurate accounting of our lives. But on Facebook, we only have words. Continue reading “You Can’t Lie on Facebook, 1: The Language of Mental Illness”