Redondo Beach, CA

“Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.” – Steve Jobs 

I don’t shy away from controversy so here goes … CatherineGraceO steps out to defend Facebook! Why? Because I see it changing lives for the better and bringing thousands of women together to connect and inspire! Facebook is a tool and a tool is only defined by how it’s used.

Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock lately, you’re probably aware that Facebook has been having more than its share of bad press. A recent article in Inc. entitled “This Fascinating New Ivy League Study Shows the ‘Clear Causal Link’ Between Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat and ‘Loneliness and Depression’,” highlights a recent University of Pennsylvania study which just might make you consider swearing off social media completely!

The article begins with a catchy introduction, “The Ivy League made Facebook. Now it’s science may be destroying it.” It goes on to say that ‘this is the first study to show a “clear causal link” between using these three sites and being lonely and depressed.’ The study focused on a group of 143 undergraduates and followed them over a period of several weeks. Half of the group reduced their time on social media to only 10 minutes a day while the other half continued their regular use. In the end, what they found was the more students used social media, the greater the impact on their mental health and the more it deteriorated.

I may not have gone to an Ivy League school (Go ‘Dores!)  but I beg to differ with the interpretation of this study. Social media definitely has its drawbacks: one being that most people, especially younger generations, tend to use it as a tool for comparison. Having grown up in a world long before social media existed, I’m grateful that I didn’t have to deal with a perfectly filtered world that’s completely detached from any semblance of reality. No wonder these youngsters and their mental well-being have suffered as it’s virtually impossible to maintain a healthy sense of self when the world around you raises the bar to a level that’s simply unattainable.

I tend to view social media in a completely different and much more empowering perspective. In my world, there is another way, a healthier way, to use social media. Frankly, I don’t know what I would have done without social media as it has literally been the key to saving my life. Just 4 years ago, late-stage Lyme Disease almost took my life. It had certainly taken away my ability to be present and to connect with others. I found myself becoming more and more isolated and disconnected from everyone and everything. Simply having a laptop and an iPhone along with an Instagram and Facebook account allowed me a means to reconnect and to find passion, meaning, and purpose. Three years ago, I entered the world of social media and my life began to change. It didn’t stop there. It also changed the lives of thousands of women around the world who have joined me and my global Facebook community, The Forever Fierce Revolution. It’s also given me the means to create an entirely new life that’s been able to impact the lives of women in all corners of the globe. I’ve Reinvented, Rewired, and become RELEVANT!

The majority of people, particularly young people who have grown up on social media, tend to use these platforms in a way that disempowers them, leading them to judge themselves based upon a world that’s completely disconnected from reality. It’s a filtered world of perfection that begins to steadily chip away at their self-esteem. Younger generations have become addicted to a steady stream of approval measured by likes and comments to ensure a constant rush of dopamine. That’s not healthy for anyone and it’s not the way I advocate using social media. As I said before, I don’t believe social media is the problem. Social media is simply a tool and there is another way, a better way to use it; a way that not only changes your life for the better but allows you to lift others along with you.

This Ivy League study is the first one of its kind that shows direct “causation.” In other words, the study states that social media causes a deterioration of mental health the more you use it. That’s a pretty sweeping statement by a high powered institution. Where I beg to differ is in the way or the intention behind how we choose to use social media. There is plenty of scientific research showing how isolation causes depression while community and connection have the opposite effect. When we choose to use social media in a conscious way to form meaningful relationships with others, to create a sense of community, it can be a powerful means of building self-esteem, self-confidence, and connection. It’s a way to develop bonds and friendship with like-minded souls all over the world in an instant.

Social media can also be enormously positive and life-giving! It definitely has been for me. Sure, I’ve had my share of moments where I’ve played the comparison game and began to doubt myself based upon things I’ve seen on social media. Yet, when I do, I know what to do to change it in an instant. I head right on over to my global community where NO MEAN GIRLS are allowed and I read the overwhelmingly positive and uplifting posts and I begin to feel better. I begin to return to me. When I need help, a bit of cheer and kindness, I have an entire Sisterhood ready and waiting to lift my spirits. Social media has allowed me to form the most meaningful friendships of my life with women I would have never met without it. Many of these women have become my closest friends and no longer just in the virtual world!

In the article, they open the door to state that “there’s lots of room for more research to be done.” I say Cheers Beauties to that! I also offer a challenge to these Ivy Leaguers. How about doing a study with some of the women in the Forever Fierce Revolution to see how our way of choosing to use social media has made our lives better? There’s a way to use social media to empower younger generations. There’s a way to use social media that can change lives. There’s a way to use social media to build self-confidence and self-esteem. There’s a way to use social media to change the world. You know how I know? Because that’s what I do…well, me and thousands of Sisters in my Forever Fierce Revolution Community, The Tribe With a Kind Vibe.  Come talk to us. I dare you to see another perspective.

Need more proof? The Forever Fierce Revolution Group inspired FierceCon LA 2018 in October. What began on Facebook became a real, in-person connection that changed women’s lives. If you still don’t believe me, read this post on attendee Linda Williams’ reflection on her experience or this one on Loretta Sayers. It may change your life. Our intention was the catalyst, Facebook was the tool.

14 comments

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Excellent post. I agree that there is a way to use social media in a positive manner. It is a matter of choice and it stems from who we are and how we choose to use it in our lives. Without social media, I would never have met you my dear friend. Then because of your mission to create change and start Forever Fierce, both our circle of friends have widen through Facebook, Instagram and in person. We created a new tribe of amazing women. Thank YOU for using social media in a way that promotes love, kindness, positivism, community and more. We can take on the brands and any other institution to show them that women in their 40’s, 50’s and beyond are making a difference in this world and know exactly how to benefit from social media. Love you sister xoxo
Hugs,
Karen – Wear With Passion

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I am so very grateful for you. Without social media, I wouldn’t have met my dear friend who’s changed my life in so many ways. It’s been a great gift and one that can be used for good or harm. It’s our choice, isn’t it?

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I think as we age we have learned to look beyond the “perfect” lives so many people portray on social media sites. Also as you say, we have a huge sisterhood where we support each other in a positive way. This support has totally enriched my life! The question is, how do we show our younger counterparts that they “are enough,” and how do we help bolster their confidence and belief in themselves?

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It’s so important as it’s easy to get caught up in perfection. Life is messy not perfect. And, I agree. I see this as a huge opportunity for Facebook to create a program to empower younger generations…or all generations…to use social media to brighten our lives. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without it.

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I think it’s a great way to connect now that lives are busier and we live farther away. But it’s like anything…can be good or bad!
OXOX
Jodie
http://www.jtouchofstyle.com

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That is so true and I thank social media for you! You are a great blessing in my life.

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I am glad you wrote this Catherine. The spin on media of any kind these days is so skewed. Really. People can use anything for the greater good or the bad. Nothing is evil or causes these types of conditions. As responsible people we can use what is around us to beautify the world, or not to. Facebook is not the problem. Thank you for this and for linking to Loretta’s and Linda’s posts.

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It is so skewed and I don’t know what I would do without it. Does it make me feel crappy some days when I fall into the comparison trap? Absolutely! But without my Forever Fierce family lifting me up, I would stay stuck. It’s so important to have real community and connection. Nothing more important!

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If it wasn’t for my blog and my,, blog friends,, my life, as a lung patient, wouldn’t be so rich, busy, fulfilling and rewarding as it is now. Let them investigate in the Netherlands too! It’s too easy to blame social media for problems. People are the problem.

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Thank you, Nancy. I agree with you. It’s more that people need to be conscious of a very important tool. Social media can do great good or great harm. It’s our choice how we use it.

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Catherine, I feel like your group has opened up my life in ways I never dreamed possible! I feel like the real me again! I came to your event and got to meet face to face with so many of the women I’ve come to know and cherish on the site. And you know what? They were even more precious in person! I didn’t want to leave! You have created a warm and friendly oasis in a world that can be cold and isolating! I agree, Catherine, Social Media and Facebook can have some amazing life changing benefits, and I thank you for being a champion for all of us women in midlife!

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Sweet Amy, you deserve the world as you make this world so much brighter. You have changed my life so much. And, I think that’s what happens in this community. It’s like the Phoenix rises naturally from within…the beauty that’s there can’t help but blossom in an environment of love, kindness and compassion. Grateful for you!

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Catherine! You are such an incredible soul with such a huge heart and such a strong sense of self. I hope that when I’m older I’m similarly as empowered as you, and that I continue to empower women myself! I absolutely love this post. I understand why people think social media is so terrible, but I believe that none of these people have done anything similar to what you or I have, in that we use social media as a tool to empower not only ourselves, but others. Social media is such a powerful tool and we must encourage people to use it differently, not to stop using it altogether!
So glad to have met you through Fohr!
xx
annabelle | http://www.mixed-hues.com

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Wow, Annabelle…your comment made my day. So glad to have met you as well. I love your openness and vulnerability. Social media is a tool and one that can be a weapon or a gift. We have to be awake and aware as to the ways to use it to build self esteem and self confidence. It has an enormous impact on our psyche. I love showing how we can use it to benefit our lives in a positive way!

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