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Social Media has become an important part of our society and it allows people to keep in contact with family and friends simply by the click of a button. The quick posts of random thoughts, exciting news, changes in life, or what you ate that day keeps the interaction and promotes relationship growth (even when there is distance involved).
Some people are “out” on Facebook with their family and have no problems; others face emotional pain from family responses (or lack of responses), while others try to keep their sexuality hidden away.
Here are a few pros and cons about Facebook and family:
PRO: Thumbs Up and Comments of Approval
The simple "thumbs up" from dad on the relationship status or a comment on the photo of you and your honey hugging is a great way for family to express their approval … without having the conversation (especially for the family members that aren’t good at communicating). Not only does it give them space to show approval, but it is also a good tool to see the support of others, without having a long, drawn out conversation.
CON: No Responses to Significant Relationship Posts
Let’s be real … family responses can be a toss-up, from brutal to supportive. It can be hurtful when family members only comment on the "I ate a delicious brownie today" comment, yet ignore posts of your recent engagement. The lack of response can often sting badly, especially when they ONLY comment on the insignificant posts.
PRO: Growth as a Family
Posting photos and sharing comments can open up new opportunities for families to connect, by getting to know you on a deeper level. When your sexuality isn’t familiar for some family members, they can grow and learn along the way by understanding the life in a same-sex relationship. This online community can open up lines of communication - through random posts, funny photos and sharing stories.
CON: Relationship Dynamics Don’t Change
Sometimes we hope that family dynamics will change and that through the online connections, "mom will finally get to see me for me." Sad thing is, family dynamics don’t change simply because we are using online networking to connect. People are people; Facebook only creates a space for family dynamics to continue to appear.
Facebook and other social media sites help family members see the normalcy of same-sex relationships by exposing them to day-to-day activity. The ongoing exposure can help family members become more comfortable and familiar with same-sex relationships. When same-sex relationships are hidden, it can automatically create a sense of feeling ashamed from other family members. These online social media locations open up lines for communication, decrease the shame aspect, and allow for potential interaction with family members.
CON: Family Doesn’t See the BIG Picture
Online social networks don’t allow people to see the “big picture.” The one to three sentence posts don’t allow family members to understand you, your relationship, or your partner any better. They don’t see your world in its raw form. They only get to make decisions or judgments based off of the posts they see.
CON: Body Language and Tone is Gone
The body language gets hidden behind a computer screen when family members make a comment on your post. The more gaps, the more we try to fill in the gaps with what they "might sound like" or how they "might have said it." Body language and tone of voice speak louder than words. This is a missing puzzle piece with social media type methods of communication.
Jennine has a local couple’s therapy practice that deals with all aspects of relationship conflict, LGBT relationship struggles, sexual addiction, sexual issues, and/or increasing communication. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFC#47653) with a private practice conveniently located in the Mission Valley area of San Diego. She also provides relationship advice on her blog: Relationships in the Raw.