Only a few days after my recent post on how my moods have improved thanks to social networking, I had the great good fortune to post a definitively down-in-the-dumps status message, no pun intended, due to a stomach virus that's been bugging me for 3 days now. Yes, folks, for some 72 hours my Facebook status has shown the actual truth, which is that I am sick.
This was a good experiment in what happens in social networks when it isn't your birthday, when your life, in fact, sucks. This will be a short post.
Social networks have proven worthless in such situations. As it is, I think most of us generally don't know what to do when someone is distressed. If you are distressed, therefore, my advice to you is to ask people for specific help, and if they offer general help, think of something specific you need.
Though I managed to resist the temptation to ask my friend to clean my house for me, I was able to leverage my real life networks for rides for my kids, a place for them to hang out in the afternoons, and some soup. The best real life networks in my life for this purpose are, surprisingly, the community-oriented networks (neighborhood, school board, synagogue), rather than individual friends. Those networks seem designed for mutual help, rather than intimacy.
Special thanks to Saul, Natie, Rochelle and Sigal, only one of whom is also a facebook friend.