Paul Michael White: Work-Life Balance Expert, Inspirational Speaker, Author & Life Coach

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What is YOUR Reality?

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Paul is a Certified Canadian Counselor with many simple, yet unique, "success" and life philosophies for YOU!

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Issue No. 26 August   2009
   2009:   Jan   Feb   Mar   Apr   May   Jun   Jul   Aug   

You knew it was coming and maybe it is here deeper than we think; only science can confirm this new phenomenon. Let’s call it Facebook Depression and a friend of mine Niki Harris recently gave me the idea in passing at Starbucks. It makes sense: people are suffering low moods and more life drama due to Facebook … or is it really due to Facebook?!

I am of the belief that it is always the people who are responsible, not necessarily the program, or machine, or technology. For example, regarding addictions, the addictive tendency seems to be in the person and not the choice of addiction such as gambling or drugs. Thus the word responsibility is used in a positive fashion to help people take power over their lives and seek help. Someone recently commented on their Facebook status that they need AA for Facebook! Maybe my friend was saying what many have felt in the last few years since this internet technology has exploded.

So here are some ideas to stir your thinking, and that is my ultimate goal: to help you help yourself. I do not have all the answers, no one person does. The key is to mix my ideas with someone else’s, and your own, and come to your own conclusions about what you want in YOUR life. Tony Robbins called this “Personal Power.” Make this a time when you take your Personal Power and live as you wish to live.

Rhianna sings:

It's a thief in the night to come and grab you
It can creep up inside you and consume you
A disease of the mind, it can control you
It's too close for comfort.

What a unique way to describe a mental illness! She calls it “Disturbia.” Many have felt disturbed while on Facebook. On one hand we have the comments and posts about how rotten life is and how someone cannot get a break (make a choice now and DELETE this poison from your life) and how we will all be dead by the end of 2010. If you decide to keep these people on your Facebook, do what I do and say a prayer for them: “Thank GOD I am ME and not living in their shoes.” If you continue to follow their posts and negative energy, we can bet that you will suffer Facebook Depression or some sort of low mood just by being influenced (putting those thoughts in your mind) by the words in front of you.

On the other side of the coin are the Facebook posts that announce life is too perfect. We all know the reality: beauty is in the eye of the beholder and thus we must strive to see the good in all, even the adversities. These people have their moments of despair and sadness too; it’s just that they do not announce it to the world. I think this is perfectly fine. Those who may suffer Facebook Depression are more than likely playing the game of the Jones’ and comparing themselves to others successes. When we compare ourselves to others, what our little competitive devil on the left shoulder (if you are left handed ) wants us to do, we will always play a losing game. We are not better or worse, just different. Why play those games anyway? They are definitely a result of our egos seeking attention and drama … and ultimately pain.

Some people prefer to stay inside on the weekend and see what everyone else is doing - on Facebook. Is technology to blame? NO. Once again the answer lies in the problem – the people. Facebook does not suffer depression … Facebook does not even suffer recession, or compression or obsession or any other human-session. It is US, you and I, the people using Facebook, which have the problems. A young client once told me in counselling that “all problems are solvable if when we go looking for solutions.”

So here are some ideas for consideration, to keep you healthy, on Facebook (or any other social-technology):

  1. Ask yourself “Why am I on Facebook?” Be honest. Are you there for networking? Business? Family connection? Dating (it is not a dating service)? Set your own parameters when you have the answer. I believe it is a great way to connect with the world, and the people we share it with. Of course we must be cautious while using Facebook, yet at the same time let others be and follow their own compass. Live YOUR life and your life only.

  2. Do you spend too much time on Facebook? I used to when it first came on board. It is a great procrastination mechanism, so be careful in this regard.

  3. Are you spending more time on Facebook than with your kids, family, significant others or friends? This is where technology can be dangerous, but once again it is the individual’s choice to spend time with loved ones or time “creeping” as it is called in Facebook language. The greatest gift we can give another, and ourselves, is time together.

  4. While on Facebook, are you jealous of others successes or how they look? Many will see this as an opportunity to shoot arrows at people and pick holes in their tapestry. I guess the idea that ‘by knocking someone else down we think we build ourselves up’ holds true in some people’s minds. However, this is a false idea. The law of sowing and reaping offers this gem of wisdom: we get what we set. Eventually we must sow positive seeds if we want positive results.

  5. Be careful what pictures you post – they could end up anywhere! Set your privacy settings, especially this day in age, to protect you.

  6. If you are a parent, limit your children’s time spent on Facebook. This holds true when statistics reveal that kids are significantly more obese and unhealthy than previous generations. I remember playing street hockey until midnight sometimes as we had a street light under our playing area. Can anyone relate? Get your kids active and use Facebook as a treat.

  7. Do not pay too much attention to people’s negative posts or read into them, especially if they are personal. Treat your energy like money and invest it wisely.

  8. Use Facebook to keep in contact with people, especially family that are living away, and keep updated on their pictures. A picture is worth more than a thousand words!

  9. Take personal responsibility and do not blame Facebook for anything. If you find it negative or “causing” you a period of low moods, remember it is your own perceptions, choices and actions that are really creating this. Change how you view and use Facebook.

  10. See point #1 again – WHY are you using Facebook? The answer may reveal itself and solve some of your other problems.

  11. If you do suffer what we have labelled Facebook Depression, then it may be time to seek help or delete your account and use your time in a much better fashion.

I hope these ideas have stirred some of your own ideas. Debate the ideas with others to gain even more insight. In simple language, life is a game of choice and the choices we make lead us in the direction we choose. So choose wisely and learn to follow your own compass. Facebook Depression seems like another way to label and blame something on the outside for what is really happening on the inside.


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