Online Christian Counseling and Opinion

Posts tagged ‘Friendship’

Too much information


As a Psychologist, I am continually amazed at the amount of information people are willing to post about themselves on social media. Having observed this phenomenon for nearly a decade, it seems people become more emboldened each day with what they choose to tell the world about themselves.

These are the same everyday people that when I was in the ministry and private practice would come to me with a problem(s) yet reluctant to say anything; it was often near impossible to pry any information out of them. Many times, it would take weeks just to get a patient to open up enough for the two of us to have a meaningful dialogue much less the “Nitti gritty” of the problem.  

Today however, people post any and everything on the web and especially social media; every conceivable personal problem (emotional or physical) is posted, elaborated, sometimes with photos and hundreds of comments from around the world are given.

It’s simply ridiculous. People on my social media pages have posted everything imaginable from their problem with toe fungus, corns and calluses, constipation, hemorrhoids, hurt feelings, depression, anxiety, what they’re having for dinner, their pet’s illnesses, whether they think someone is a liar or not,  questioning or diagnosing mental disorders of friends or relatives, sexual dysfunction and  so much more.

Again, these are the same people that will not seek out professional help.

With no apology, if I were still in private practice, I would consider having about half my social media friends temporarily committed for observation.

Seriously, what the hell is wrong with you people? I know many of you and some things you have posted on my social media pages, I just can’t believe.

I don’t want to hear about how your cat vomited all over you and the bed during the night, or how your hemorrhoids kept you up all night or why you think Uncle Jed or sister Sue is definitely Bi-polar or Schizophrenic or how you hope your boyfriend doesn’t find out about your one night stand with the guy you met at Starbucks on your way home from work; duh? He does now and so does everybody else.

The problems people used to bring to their ministers, psychologist, psychiatrist and counselors is now simply thrown out on social media like confetti being dropped from a tall building in a parade with their social media post dropped on anyone and everyone consequences be damned.

This is to say the least frivolous, irresponsible and (excuse the expression) just crazy.

Let me be clear, it’s not that I’m not concerned or don’t want to be your social media friend but frankly if you want to talk to me about it, contact me privately and personally.

I will be happy to listen as a Minister or Christian Psychologist or Addiction Counselor (take your pick, I’m all)  but be prepared to sign both a hold harmless agreement and non-disclosure statement along with my fee of $125.00 CASH (I also take Pay Pal) per hour (for a fifty minute counseling session) which I will be happy to conduct in person or via video chat.

Then and only then will I l be willing to listen to your earth shattering problems and difficulties which you feel  are so troubling that you must broadcast to the entire world over social media opening yourself to every Troll, Phishing scam, hacker, malware, ransom ware or worse and possibly losing everything you have including your very life.

Seriously people, grow up and stop thinking all of us as social media friends want or need to know everything about you; we don’t.

Posting too much information on social media is dangerous and psychologically speaking can speak volumes as to your mental and emotional state of mind.

If you are really troubled about something, please seek professional help.

© 2017 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD

Are internet friends genuine?

Nothing separates genuine friendships Graphic: Susan Joyner-Stumpf

Friends or not?

To be sure, the topic of friendship has been discussed with some detail in recent years due to the popularity of social networking.

Recently on one of the more prominent social networking sights, the topic seems to have gained new life and as such, it seems appropriate to once again visit this entire topic.

One important fact of life as any counselor, sociologist or psychologist will tell you is, people have a need for personal interaction and friendships.

The need for friendship starts almost from birth with children interacting with others in nurseries and day care and especially when they start school for the first time or begin a new school year. When one child goes up to the other for the first time and begins exchanging names, comparing clothes and even facial features the attempt at friendship begins.

Somewhere along the way however, people can lose sight of their need for friends and friendship, they become isolated and draw into themselves.

The need for human interaction is as necessary as breathing. We need one another.

Large corporations and Churches have learned long ago that principle well enough to introduce the concept of “small groups”. These are groups small enough that allow and attract people specifically for making better human interaction.

Businesses do this for think tank purposes and most evangelical churches in America now have some form of ‘small group’ concept in their church ministry for better personal interaction.

The Bible refers to friends in abundance. King Solomon tells us in the book of Proverbs that a ‘friend loves at all times’, this is probably the most popular verse on friendship in the Bible. Real friendships are able to look past their disagreements and focus on the positives of life.

There is also other references to friendship in the Bible such as David and Jonathon, Ruth and Boaz, Elijah and Eli, Priscilla, Aquila and the Apostle Paul and many more.

And of course, the greatest friend of all is Jesus. The Bible reminds us that Jesus called us His friends.

One reason social networking has become so popular is because people want friends. Christians have even gotten ‘Christian specific’ with our own social networking alternatives of which their are now several because we all need friends.

The whole concept of “internet friends” or “social networking friends” being real and genuine has become a matter of discussion and controversy within the psychology and counseling community particular.

In question is, “Can someone you might have never seen (other than a profile photo) become a real and genuine friend?” Most mental health professionals trend towards the negative on this and say unless you’ve met the person prior to social networking they probably are no more than an acquaintance at best and possibly a stalker or inquisitive hacker waiting to strike and take advantage.

There is an old saying which pastors and mental health workers have known for years, “FAMILIARITY breeds both conflict and contempt.” With regard to “Social networking friends”, be very careful in how much you share with each other about each other; especially in public forums. Many people have been destroyed on social networks with the best of intentions. So as Jesus says, “Love one another…” but indeed, be cautious because evil is always lurking.

That said, many of us remember making “pen pals” in school. We communicated via traditional postal mail writing back and forth with other “unknown” people from usually another country and we might not even have a picture. We felt like we had genuine friends even though we might never actually meet them.

For many, having a “pen pal” was their first real inter-personal relationship and it was a good thing as is “social networking” of today.

Psychology teaches us that human inter-action or ‘friendship’ is important and recent articles in psychology periodicals emphasize such.

One of the easiest ways to make real flesh and blood friends is to step back from the computer. Go to a gym, get involved with a softball team or bowling league or attend a local church where you can probably do it all . Get involved in one of the many small groups or attend local church services or social events.

Most friendships are good including those that social networking has brought about. Most of us can be thankful of all of the new friends from across the globe we have been able to make because of computers and social networking.

Personally, this writer has met a few people through “social networking” who have and will remain genuine and lifelong friends. These are some of the finest people ever encountered and definitely genuine friends.

But nothing is better than the firm grasp of a hand, a warm hug or even a ‘butterfly’ kiss on the cheek and hearing those wonderful words, ‘I’m so glad you are my friend’. This writer looks with anticipation when this is an experience shared with several new found “social network friends”.

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