Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Another Way to Waste Time



My children do it, for hours on end.
My patients talk about it, a lot.
I tried, there was nothing to do. I sat there alone. My children called me Creepy.
I thought I had it figured out that it's the domain of a very distinct demographic group, one to which I don't belong: the 14 - 30 year olds.
Then, suddenly, I realized that the old folks were doing it, too. I found Fat Doctor, there she was, with lots of friends. I found a bunch of my friends, I said H
i.
Time: it evaporates, but nothing happens. No calories get burned, nothing gets produced, consumed, washed, folded and nothing gets done. Even the connection is kind of vapid, meaningless, and somehow I can better rationalize the other silly things I do-- the hours of email, the blog, the unpublished novels. This, I don't quite get it or why I'm spending my time this way.
Facebook, of course.

Okay, I have to make this about psychiatry, so I'll ask this: is it a boundary violation to Friend your patients on Facebook? To accept when they Friend you? And how hurtful is it to refuse a patient's Friend request? Is it creepy to look at a patient's profile?

No, this hasn't come up, but one of the residents mentioned to me that they feel weird when the psychiatry faculty members want to Friend them on Facebook and it got me thinking about all the unwritten rules. My kid tells me her teachers won't be their Facebook friends until after graduation. I'm told a romance is really only valid if it's on your profile, and Facebook only allows you to post that you're in a relationship with someone if that someone also agrees to the status. And how do we even begin to deal with "unfriending?"
Is it my imagination, or was life just a little simpler way back when?
And, oh, if I haven't met you in real life, I don't want to be your Facebook friend. Please don't be insulted.