There are many and varied positive and negative effects of social media on society, connectedness, social competence, safety, the list goes on. However, group chats in Facebook messenger have, for me, undoubtedly improved all of the above. One group in particular, involving me and three of my most valued friends, is one of my greatest sources of support.
I find empathy when I’m lying on the floor of my kids’ bedroom at night listening to my toddler exclaim sweetly and repeatedly ‘I don’t want to go to bed,’ before enduring the transition of this sweet objection into wailing screams and flailing limbs if I dare leave the room. I find affirmation when I’m doubting my parenting decisions (or just general life decisions). I find laughter, oh so much laughter, at anything from each other, to the happenings in our sometimes chaotic households, or the ‘news’ that appears in our feeds. I find intellectually stimulating conversation as well as lighthearted conversation candy. I find motivation to be fit and healthy, and permission to make something else a priority.
Facebook messenger has enabled me and my friends to interact with simplicity. To know when and who has seen what, to be able to respond whenever we happen to be available, to know what you’ve missed and how far back you need to scroll to catch up with the conversation. To have loosely ‘on demand’ feedback about whatever it is you’re asking/sharing. Regardless of what anyone says, justified or not, about social media having a negative influence on being authentically social, for me and this specific group, it is most definitely a relationship enhancer.
One of the friends in the group likes to spend her spare time editing the theme or how people’s names are displayed. For a while there she had me appearing as ‘Gabz Smellz.’ Lucky this particular friend has the most innocent sense of humour and her alterations are hilariously juvenile. One evening I received more notifications for setting changes than I did for messages received! First colour, then name changes, then changes to the name of the group. This was following a conversation about how much we love food. Good food. Good tasting that is, but not necessarily good for you. The name of this particular group eventually made it to ‘Cuddly and Happy’ and remains labelled that today and continues to have a lasting and positive effect on me. It makes me feel safe and like I belong, every time I’m notified of Cuddly and Happy action.