Over the past year, I ?ve joined the social networking crowd and gotten back in touch with people as far back as elementary school. It has been wonderful! People who I haven ?t seen in thirty years are suddenly back in my life, and it has been so much fun to catch up with everyone and to see their families. As I ?ve looked at everyone ?s profiles, it has reminded me of the great influence many of these people have had in my life. I found one of my first piano teachers, who was a woman I absolutely idolized. I never told her that when I was a kid, but finding her now all these years later I am able to tell her that my love for music largely started with her, and that I have gone on to be a piano teacher myself. I consider it a blessing in my life to be able to get back in touch with people from all periods of my life – people I was very close to at one time but lost touch with, people I didn ?t know extremely well but have come to know better now, and yes – even a few Mormon Mommas who I now consider to be my friends too!
Do you find that some things that can be great sources of good can also be great sources of evil? You could say that about the internet in general of course, but I want to speak more specifically about social networking sites.
In the past few months, I ?ve had a couple of friends who have made the very sad decision to end their marriages and even abandon their children (as in moving out-of-state without them) after reconnecting or meeting someone on one of these sites. This week, I ?ve heard of two more. All week long, it has been bothering me and I ?ve been contemplating this post and what to say about it. I have a lot of questions.
First, I wonder why LDS women seem especially susceptible to this? I have lots of non-LDS friends on these sites, and they haven ?t left their families. Yet four LDS women I know have. I know it ?s not just in the church that it ?s happening, but I guess I was naοve enough to think that LDS women would know better. Our lives are so centered on our families and children that it seems incomprehensible that this could even happen. Do we think we are above ? it happening to us, and that makes us particularly susceptible when old feelings from a past flame or new feelings from an exciting new guy arise?
Regardless of WHY it is happening, what can we do to prevent it? Do we not become friends with anyone of the opposite sex that we had a past relationship with, or a pining for, or who we might not even know in real life but we find attractive after meeting them online? Do we not become friends with men at all, other than family members?
After this happened to my first friend, I started asking myself what I should do to stay as far away from this temptation as possible. I wondered about getting back in touch with men from my past – should I, should I not? I personally have not become internet friends ? with any men (all my internet friends are Mormon Mommas!!) but there are several men I ?ve either dated or had the proverbial crush on who have found their way into my circle of friends on my social networking sites. For what it ?s worth, here are some things I ?ve decided for myself. I ?d love to hear your comments and suggestions.
Do I accept friend invitations from men from my past? Yes, under certain circumstances such as a fairly casual relationship, or something that clearly ended and I ?ve never regretted it. Would I accept an invite from someone I ?d been engaged to, or didn ?t want to end things with but it happened anyway? No, I think that ?s just too dangerous – too many buried feelings there that can easily come right back to the surface once you start getting chummy again.
Once you are friends, how much do you share with them? Are private messages okay? What about entering a chat session with them? For me, I say no. Anything that you would say in public to them should be enough, in my opinion. Chat sessions just get too ?well ?chatty. And chatty can lead to flirtation, and flirtation can lead to gee, I really liked this guy, and my husband is boring me, and he ?s gone all the time, and this guy is giving me attention ? ?.and that leads to trouble, my friends. So I say just avoid it. No chats, no private emails. Sure, post a hey, how ?re you doing? Darling family! ? on their public page, but other than that, really what is the purpose? If we do engage in flirtations like this – why? Just for a little titillation in our lives? What are we going to do when the person on the other end starts telling you their marital problems, or that they are divorced? What about when they say, “hey, I’m only 3 hours away, let’s get together for lunch!” It’s just tempting fate too much to even start down that path.
Perhaps you feel differently one way or the other , I ?d love to hear what you think.
I don ?t want to blow this out of proportion, but I will not be surprised to hear church leaders speaking more about this to women in the church. Where the topic du jour is avoiding pornography for the men, for the women it just might become watch the amount of time you are spending on these things and how you are behaving yourself while there. ?