I'm an addict.
There, I've finally admitted it to everyone. But I'm not
interested in a 12-step program-at least not yet. There are still
lost animals to rescue, produce to plant and friends to help become
farmer gods while I build my own plantation life in Farmville.
My devotion to my Facebook farm opens the door to lots of
teasing from the kids and my darling husband, who sometimes finds
himself reluctantly booted off the computer while working in the
middle of a giant spreadsheet so I can harvest my crops before they
wither or feed my pretend dog Tierney before he runs away.
Never mind that I am always eager to make my IRL (in real life)
friends and acquaintances fellow addicts. It's no fun to be alone
in an addiction.
Sure I could be doing something more productive with the few
minutes every day that I spend on Facebook catching up with my
friends' status updates and farming. But every parent needs a
little mind break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life,
I didn't really realize my kids were onto my addiction until I
was tidying up the "real" flower beds in our front yard and the
kids were gleefully dancing around me and laughing about me
"farming." So I took a step back and now only plant and harvest
crops once a day-after 9 p.m.
All kidding aside, as we discover in Kelly James-Enger's story
this month about our online personalities, Facebook and other
social media are becoming a great tool for moms and dads to connect
with friends and family and find answers to pressing questions. For
example, over the weekend, one of my friends asked whether black
nylons can be paired with a dark brown suit (NO) and another asked
for non-violent anti-rabbit tricks for her garden this year. Plus
there were dozens of status updates about my friends' kids' sports
victories, prom photos and new baby photos (our terrific Art
Director Rebecca Lomax became an aunt again).
I've re-established friendships that had withered because I
don't ever make enough time for girls' night out or lunch. I've
used Facebook to help my daughter sell Girl Scout cookies, and I've
also used Facebook to keep my kids connected to friends who have
moved out of the country. I find stories that inspire me and tips
that I can apply to my own life.
Parenting can be an isolating experience. These days, social
media is playing a larger role in bringing us all together. It is
creating a new definition of community. At Chicago Parent's
Facebook page, for example, that community includes more than 1,400
parents you can connect with through the shared experience of
raising a child in Chicago.
As our story this month points out, the key, really, is to make
sure we don't lose touch with the people in our lives.
Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there, but especially to
the celeb dads we're featuring this month and to my wonderful
husband who puts up with me and loves our kids to pieces.
Tamara is the editor of Chicago Parent and mom of three.
See more of Tamara's stories here.
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