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”

A Theory of Sexual Attraction: Part 2

So, based upon my first post in this series, our “sexuality chart” might look something like this, with a different chart for each person:

Screen Shot 2013-07-07 at 3.46.30 PM

(If this chart doesn’t make sense to you, you may want to go back and read that first post.) In that first post, I divided off “same-sex-attraction” from “opposite-sex-attraction” and then further subdivided by context/time/development, individual persons, and attractive qualities. I ended up with a rather complex (and perhaps confusing) view of human sexuality. In this post, I will discuss some possible implications of the theory proposed in my first post on how we (and especially Christians) can view “homosexuality.”  Continue reading “A Theory of Sexual Attraction: Part 2”

A Problem with Co-Education

I’ve seen quite a few “relationships” during my time at Notre Dame. This is what usually happens: Notre Dame’s social circles are usually centered around co-ed “friend groups.” The groups usually constitute themselves by the end of sophomore year. A group spends all of its time together, and a natural dynamic within the group develops. Eventually, a man and a woman in the group realize that they’re “interested” in each other. All of the other members of the group realize this, so the group readjusts its dynamic for that awkward sexual tension between two of its members. Continue reading “A Problem with Co-Education”

Chivalry and Healthy Relationships

The following column was published in The Observer on Tuesday, March 27, 2013. It was co-written with Jen Gallic, a junior at Notre Dame. She wrote the first half, and I wrote the second half. I’ve adjusted the format from its original printing to reflect this.

Three years ago, I arrived at school an overeager freshman excited for new experiences and, more than anything, excited to meet new people. Freshman orientation was a blur of activity, and I quickly hit the ground running, involved in just about every club I could find. About two months into school, I remember walking into the library feeling completely overwhelmed and a little exhausted. I had finally hit a wall. Looking around for somewhere to sit, a friend I hadn’t seen since orientation called me over to sit with him. Although we hadn’t seen each other since then, we got to talking and eventually started hanging out more. Continue reading “Chivalry and Healthy Relationships”