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Facebook offers opportunities for Auburnites

Users should monitor how much time is spent on site, psychologist says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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When you get a free moment, do you reach for your cell phone or computer to check your Facebook page? You are not alone. Local community members use the site for a variety of reasons. Facebook is a social networking website that allows people to post information and photos of themselves, acquire friends, tell online friends what they are doing in that moment, join online groups of interest, play games, advertise businesses and music and more. Facebook has taken the world by storm, and several Auburnites chatted with the Journal about how they use the site. Jolene vonMillanich, 24, has a rare form of breast cancer. She was diagnosed at 17 years old, and the cancer turned malignant when she was 23. She is currently between treatments, and uses Facebook to communicate with breast cancer survivors and women who have the same type of cancer. “Those girls who are on there know what I’m going through, so they provide support,” vonMillanich said. VonMillanich said she has befriended about 40 people with her type of cancer through the site, and she feels it has changed her life for the better. “Without it I would be alone in this,” she said. “There are some women I look up to as a motherly figure … because they understand, and they have been there. It is stuff I can’t tell my mother, because she would freak out.” Through Facebook, vonMillanich heard about a couple of conferences for young women and adults affected by cancer. In May she attended a conference in New York, and several of her Facebook friends paid for her and her boyfriend to stay at the Trump SoHo Hotel. While staying there, she met Donald Trump and musician Bret Michaels. VonMillanich said Facebook provides a huge benefit in her life. “I would say just the support that I get from my Facebook friends (is important),” she said. “I just go on there and explain certain things and e-mail certain people … and I get valuable advice from them. We are all there to support each other.” Arij Mousa, Placer School for Adults computer program director and instructor, said the school uses Facebook for a number of things, including offering discounts for classes, advertising events and classes, helping Auburn residents find jobs and for teaching classes on how to set up a Facebook account. “We use it to invite students … to school events and classes,” Mousa said. “When we have a class coming up, we will invite fans on Facebook (to attend the class). We do have classes actually that I teach on Facebook. I teach people how to create an account, how to add friends and fans, how to post personal information and how to create a business page.” Mousa said the school is currently sponsoring the Active Job Seekers of Auburn to come to the facility and learn how to search for job postings on the site and build business profiles on their personal Facebook pages. “A lot of job seekers don’t know (about) that,” she said. On a personal basis, Mousa said she uses the website to keep in touch with her relatives in the Middle East. She said she likes the fact that she can post an album of photographs without having to send individual e-mails to each relative. “It’s really a good way to communicate with family and friends,” Mousa said. Mousa said she also uses the site to keep “in the know” about what is going on in Auburn. Dr. Jordan Hamilton, an Auburn psychologist at the California Relationship Center on East Street, said those who use Facebook and other social networking websites should be aware of how much time they are spending talking with online friends rather than those in a close physical proximity. “What I see happening now for a number of couples is over-involvement in social media can be used as a distraction from the primary relationships in peoples’ lives,” Hamilton said. “That can be so destructive to relationships in a family or marriage. My reservation is communication is always better face to face, eye to eye and hand to hand.” Hamilton said when people communicate over the networking site, they don’t see facial expressions or hear a tone of voice, which are a huge part of communication. Hamilton said he thinks Facebook feels safer to a lot of people than approaching someone in person, but he believes there is no substitute for face-to-face communication. Auburn resident Loyce Smallwood said she spends about two hours a day on Facebook keeping up on the latest Auburn information. Smallwood said while she enjoys talking face-to-face and on the phone, people are in such a hurry that it’s sometimes easier to exchange shorter conversations on the website. “I like to do something I think is really interesting and discuss concepts and ideas,” Smallwood said. “I like to talk to some of the other business people. We talk about what makes a successful business and what start-up (business) people should do.” Smallwood said Facebook gives her the chance to express herself and keep in touch with those around her. “It gives me a great opportunity to voice my opinions,” she said. “Facebook, you can just go to town there and meet new people, and old friends.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com