Wednesday, April 7, 2010

All in Moderation? The 12 Step (C) Guide to Social Networks!

There are times I feel like I have another addiction!  I know I am addicted to food, I even attended Overeaters Anonymous meetings and was once successful in losing weight.  They took the basic 12 Step Guide from Alcohilics Anonymous and replaced the word "alcohol" with the word "food".  The same priciples were involved with sponsors and coming to meetings and following the 12 Steps.  Now once a person is addicted to alcohol and they abstain they can take up an addiction to replace it, like smoking or chewing gum or gambling or sex.  You get the idea.  Someone powerless over food hasn't too many choices.  After all, you need food to survive, just not as much as you were eating. 

And following on this premise, I believe I have now replaced eating with the Internet.  Specifically, Facebook.  Oh, I started out very lightly.  I joined some non-profit organizations like FORCE, Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered ( in order to better understand my BRCA2 genetic mutation.  It is still a place I visit at least once a day to make sure I still have a soft place to land.  Or to be there to give back to the people who helped me with support, information and unconditional love.  There are newbies all the time who need questions answered and you never know when you will be able to help a fellow "previvor" (n. ...a person who does not have cancer yet, but is at a higher, elevated risk to get cancer. Previvors are demonstrated in those women and men who test positive for the BRCA gene mutation.  Via Webster's Dictionary).

There were a few of those.  Then, I graduated into something more.  A place that is not so private.  I found MySpace and thought it was great since I got to reconnect with former classmates and friends I had made along the way.  I had a chance to keep in touch with family who lived both near and far.  I heard my stepson's new songs he posted on his "page" under the musicians' section.  But it was just not satisfying.  There were too many creeps and scams and too many young people.

I heard about a new place.  A place where so many connections can be made that pretty soon, I was anouncing my 100th friend, then my 500th!  The place of course is Facebook.  It is littered with the same snags as MySpace.  The phishing scams are easy to detect.  For example, the group that promises to give you first crack at a bigger barn for Farmville, a new Apple IPad, more money, more sex, less fat, more jobs, and the like.  Facebook allowed communication with the world in a different way.  I was still helping FORCE by promoting our local Philadelphia Outreach Group.  I posted about a friend's book that was instrumental in affirming my decision to have my prophylactic surgeries (more on that in a future blog).  Another friend has set up a Memorial Site for her daughter's late father.  There is a store owned by 2 sisters and I help with to increasing their customer base by reaching out to survivors whom then they help with their products and services.   The list goes on.

So, since I am AGAIN unemployed and spend so much with an Internet connection open, what does is hurt to have a tab with Facebook up?  None that I can see.  I have over 800 friends.  And believe it or not, there is some little tidbit I can tell you about each one of them.  Just keeping up with the birthdays is maddening enough!  I am able to reconnect with people I lost touch with on the past 30 or so intervening years.  Even going back as far as elementary school!  At least half a dozen people circa 1971 with whom I have connected.  If I kept my time limited on good ole "FB", as some of us call it, I think my family could accept that.  I do get into some complicated Instant Messaging (IM) almost every day.  Tonight was no exception!

However!  I got invloved in the online gaming on FB.  At one time I was playing more than 20 games!  Way too many.  I was staying up until 2 AM or later.  The first thing I did bleary-eyed and all was check my games.  The last thing at night.  Whenever I had free time and being unemployed there is a lot of that.  I reasoned it away by telling myself it was not costing any money. I was being entertained very cheaply.  When I played word games I was expanding my mind (but only when I actaully looked up a word's meaning).  It was so bad, I was checking in on my mobile phone too!  Reality was a distant buzz when I weakened and "bought" FB credits via my mobile phone account.  That was my epiphany.

Now I was reassessing my committment to games.  I weeded out what I was not really playing.  I culled the ones that I felt were not exciting enough.  Like these games were the end all of my life!  Well, almost at one point.  Seriously!  I have now narrowed iut down to one word game and four interactive games.  It is now manageable.  But in the meantime it is not joke to say I was addicted.  Here is my version of the 12 step guide for FB with aplogies to Bill W. and AA:

1. We admitted we were powerless over Facebook—that our lives had become totally involved with FB morning, noon and night.

2. Came to believe that the Internet has become greater than ourselves and we need to restore ourselves to

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
    (Not much to change here....go with the Basics I say)

4. Made a searching and fearless inventory of what is the bare minimum to play.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to our friends on FB the games we deleted and what we kept.

6. Were entirely ready to block applications whenever necessary.

7. Humbly asked our friends not to send requests and removed our method of payment we used to buy credits or game dollars.

8. Made a list of all persons we had made neighbors and became willing to let them play without us and asked their forgiveness.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would prevent them from getting to the next level up.

10. Continued to cull more games every day and not start new ones.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
      (Again, no changes, just the Basics again)

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to friends and fellow gamers, and to practice these principles in all our postson our wall and our profile.

And now, to play with the 3D people in the real world!

Love and hugs,

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