In this insanely torn world of tissue-thin politics and corporate come-ons, how is a person to stay open-hearted and not shut down in armored protection?
In our world of virtual "friendship", the lines of trust and propriety are fluid and expressly up to each of us to define them.
How do you define trust on Facebook?
I get personal messages on Facebook semi-often from terrific-sounding people from all over the world. If I sense sincerity, I respond, given my open curiosity and the fact that my upbringing was concrete on the matter of human kindness.
I independently believe in the practice of kindness. Yet truly, it lies beyond being a belief.
Kindness, for better and worse, is a prominent ingredient in my blood and brain chemistry. This makes it a no-choice situation for a pro-choice girl like me. I don't like no choice.
The joke's on me.
Anyway, here's a puzzle.
How to authenticate a person's emotions on Facebook. Is it possible?
Remember when a first date was face-to-face and yet seamlessly achieved the highest possible level of charm and evasive artifice?
Imagine "meeting" on Facebook. (Insert commercial take-off of "This is what your brain looks like on drugs").
Facebook is a 100% vehicle for self-promotion. We choose what we display on FB about ourselves.
In my case, nothing personal, with exceptions to PMs.
I have a superficial affair with Facebook, not a relationship. I don't take it seriously or aim to replace my real life with my techno life.
Does that mean that I have missed out on knowing about Facebook's relationship with other people? Perhaps I have derided the meaning that Facebook has in many people's lives?
For instance, people on Facebook may be seeking a romantic dalliance without having the annoyance of a dating site.
What's wrong with that, given both parties are consenting?
Clearly, I've never given FB much time or respect.
I do know that people are lonelier than ever even with this social-media approximation of community and connection that is Facebook.
Yet Facebook, when I think about it, has given me some connections I adore.
What, then, is the reason for people being lonelier and more depressed, in spite of FB's existence, as many formal and informal polls suggest.
I think the answer might be that, in the end, virtual contact is toxic and dehumanizing, even as it is reassuring.
Psychoanalytically, it replays an abandonment that re-teaches the untouchability of others and the impossibility of solid love.
There is also no question, in my mind, that robotic emotional development is designed to replace human emotion.
Now that's f****ing disheartening.
And thus, it is clear that, unconsciously or not computer relationships, and communicating through the cold shield of technology, promotes depression, pharmaceuticals, and profound unconscious alarm.
As Michael McDonald sang, "It keeps you running".
Social media, itself, is also a ripe potential route for opportunistic shenanigans that may offer the petty, and not-so-petty, thief, entrance into the private world of faceless strangers.
That's the dark truth, although there are other non-criminal side effects of social media that I consider less-than-wonderful trade-offs, as well, like non- physical togetherness and the deleting of the human voice.
There is nothing more important than the human voice, I find, both for the beauty of real connection and for deciphering the heart and intentions of a person.
And there is no replacement for being with a person; seeing, if we choose, who she or he really is, and thus, knowing if we are interested to continue pursuing the unknown.
I have become, in spite of the stranglehold of learned feminine politesse, someone who easily cuts the cord when the cord is newly introduced and even slightly mangled. This metaphorical cord may be a conversation that quickly evolves into someone asking to enter a personal realm. I have no problem with boundaries. In fact, I love boundaries, and teach the wisdom of having them.
Yet, having just emerged from a fresh Exhibit A of this somewhat ambiguous, certainly overwrought, scenario, I find a whiff of regret in the aftermath. No regret, at all, when the person is inappropriate.
Note: Whatever "inappropriate" means to you, if you feel it, take it seriously.
But what about when someone reaches out and is truly respectful, and yet, ends up revealing a desire to cross over to an intimate connection when I have no interest.
For me, it's simple.
If you want to sell me something, I'm not your audience.
There is no crossing my boundary.
A man from Athens, Greece, thinks I am beautiful--there's my clue-- and wants to send me a gift. A symbolic gift to join hands in Greekness.
Note: I am not a Facebook regular, yet I have warm alliances with people on FB who have become known to me and I to them over much time and sharing of thoughts. I appreciate the fierce smarts of some of them and enjoy checking in.
I have been unable to access my own website, www.drcherylpappas.com, for months. godaddy tells me they have zero ideas and can do nothing to help. I write for different news web sites, the Huffington Post, Opednews, and others, with Facebook also a place to post my writings, when the spirit moves me.
Back to my Athens FB "friend". He asks me to please send him my address, after a perfectly reasonable round of hellos. Turns out he wrote to me in February, and as is common for me, I never saw or read the messages.
He insists that the address I send him could be my business address, and that he is innocently moved to send a gift.
When someone I do not know on Facebook says that I am beautiful, I swiftly thank them and end the conversation. It happens in physical life often enough, and there's nothin' wrong with that!
I have no problem thanking someone for a compliment and swiftly demurring come-ons.
The Greek Facebooker did not touch upon my "beauty" until the end of a brief conversation about Greece and Europe.
Is this a case of a clinically retarded( the word here has nothing to do with political incorrectness) naive approach to people, (mine), or on the other hand, a case of too much suspicion?(mine).
You could easily say that I am old enough not to get into these dilemmas online, or that it is silly to have a second or third thought about this type of thing.
I am meticulous about friendship. My friends are tight and love is in the air in my life in great gusts.
Yet, I remain open to warmhearted, brilliant, wise, funny, fiscally-adept strangers. Watch out, the world is flooded with them.
How could the quest for such experience ever end?
This, itself, is life's adventure. That at any moment something will astonish you and change you for the better.
And yet, I thank my Facebook Greek acquaintance for his flattery as I say the Greek equivalent of adieu.
In summation, I have come to a Carrie Bradshaw moment.
As Carrie Bradshaw would say, "I couldn't help but wonder"....
Have the lines between trust and suspicion merged into one lane?