Tag Archives: Relationships

Face Time


(Note: This post was originally published in Filipinas Magazine in September 2008)

What in the world is a “dynein?” I look it up. It has just scored my brother 33 points on Scrabble. According to Wikipedia, “Dynein is a motor protein (also called molecular motor or motor molecule) in cells which converts the chemical energy contained in ATP into the mechanical energy of movement.” Now, how the heck did that word get into his vocabulary?

It’s Raymond’s turn next, so I have some time to consider my next move, shuffling my tiles repeatedly hoping a 6 or 7 letter word would materialize. We are now on Day 3 of our Scrabble game, the same game, dragged on for days, perhaps because we’re not physically sitting at the same table, arranging tiny wooden letter tiles over a 16”x16” board. Rather, we’re playing online Scrabble, one of the several game applications available on Facebook.
Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

I’m a Facebook newbie. After several invitations, I finally acquiesced in early May. My niece, Liza, was one of the first to post a comment on my “Wall.” “Careful… it sucks time away from the day,” she warned. She wasn’t kidding. Even my friend’s father, who is in his late sixties, found himself hooked on the site. While he claims he only logs on an hour at a time, three times a week, I know I’ve seen him online more often than that. “It’s the most unproductive thing one can indulge in, but I love it. Great stress reliever and makes one silly,” he chuckles.

I click over to my other favorite Facebook games, Word Scramble, to check out the leader board. Rico Saenz is still in the lead at 136 points. I rank third at 125, a point less than Tina. I’m competing against friends from the Philippines, Australia, and all across the United States, including my brother, Paolo, who now lives in Southern California. I could try another three minute round to see if I could beat my personal best, but it is now close to midnight – time to put the keyboard to rest. Right after I “throw a sheep” at Mike.

Within three days of joining, I find almost 129 family members and friends on the site. Almost one year on Friendster, another social networking site, and I haven’t even broken the double-digits on my friends’ list. I guess my buddy Cris Roces is right – more of our friends, Colegio San Agustin (CSA) alums and otherwise, are active on Facebook. Soon I’m adding old work colleagues, college partners-in-crime, former roommates, long-lost third-degree cousins, high school buddies, and new pals I randomly met while traveling abroad to my list of friends.

One of my newly added friends is Sarah Solano, a former happy hour buddy. After thirty years, she found her grade school pal, who still lives in thePhilippines, through Facebook. “It’s a great way of reconnecting with your friends all over the world!” she beams.

Because of Facebook, Michael Frauendorff found his former teammates from theMakatiFootballSchooland got to reminisce about the glory days on the forums. He fondly leafed through photos of medals, tournaments, and uniforms dating back to the late 70’s, adding this was “when coaches Tomas Lozano and Juan Cutillas were kings!”

It has now been about four months since I signed up for a Facebook account. And I have to confess, I am addicted. To make it official, I joined “I check my Facebook more than I check my E-mails,” a group created by Willie Dee inShanghai,China. Formed in April 2008, the group now boasts 518 members, from Hong Kong toLondon. Will states that “In April 2008, Facebook was estimated to have more than 70 million active users. Every member of this group believes that 80% of Facebook users check their Facebook account in a day way more than they check their email account in a week.”

Yep, sounds like me. So why do I spend so much face time on Facebook? Out of all the social networking sites I belong to, I feel I can be most like myself on this site. I don’t know about you, but I assume various alter-egos and select friends differently depending on the site.

On LinkedIn, I put on my corporate alter-ego and professional relationships dominate my network. With past colleagues, current clients, or business partners (most of whom have no idea that I don studded arm cuffs and rock out in a band on weekends), LinkedIn is my “business face” on the web. I’m much more conservative with the information I provide, highlighting only those that relate to my line of work and posting links to articles and blogs I’ve written on mortgage finance, interest rate trends, and economic updates. Did you know I’m a straight-laced Mortgage Banker and Dale Carnegie Instructor by day? I check LinkedIn about once every two weeks.

I use MySpace mostly to promote my band and personally know only about 30 percent of my “friends.” The rest are a combination of random adds (mostly of celebrities like Black Eyed Peas, Tila Tequilla, and Kendra Wilkinson) and friend requests from folks I don’t remember meeting at gigs. There is hardly any personal information about myself on MySpace so I’m more liberal in accepting friend requests. I check MySpace roughly three times a week.

On Facebook, I am just myself. Perhaps because I have a genuine relationship with most of the folks on my friends list. While I outright decline invitations from people I don’t know, I file invitations from those I barely know under a “limited profile” category, with restricted access to my photo albums and other personal information. The rest on my list see everything – status updates, wall posts, game stats, photo uploads, and blogs. I’m on Facebook twice a day – at lunch and before bedtime, sometimes more when I receive email notifications.

Melani dela Vega, one of my CSA buddies, agrees. She says that while she is on multiple online social networks, she felt that she has been able to reach out to a wider social circle through Facebook. “Through this site, I am in touch with elementary and high school classmates, family, childhood friends and even other parents from my son’s school. It seems to have less of the negative stigma that Myspace does. I surely am enjoying the virtual food fight with the moms from my son’s school,” she adds.

While nothing beats actual face time with a friend, developing and nurturing relationships through cyberspace transcends time and space. For now, I’m parking my profile on Facebook.


UPDATE: I’m now up to 1400+ friends on Facebook and have added Twitter to my social media addiction. Follow me @XtinaDunham 🙂


Confessions of a Sociaholic


I confess. I’m a sociaholic.

I crave the company of people, whether it just be with my husband, family and friends, or a thousand others. I genuinely enjoy being around people. My social calendar is often packed with engagements with my favorite folks. When my husband and I aren’t on a date or playing a gig with our band, I’m out and about with friends, chatting up a storm over a fabulous home-cooked meal, tearing up dance floors in the city, or exchanging stories over a glass of wine.

And when I am not face to face with friends, I’m catching up with them online. Through quick exchanges via instant messaging, sharing simple every day moments through status updates on Facebook, or responding to posts on Twitter, I somehow manage to keep tabs on my various circles of friends.

I can’t help it – I was raised around a ton of people, so amid the chaos of crowds is where I find comfort.

People with shared interests, histories or ideas are often drawn together. In my case, my interests run the gamut so my activities and experiences range from the sublime to the simply frivolous. And just as there are specific tools for accomplishing a variety of tasks, I have a diverse group of friends to fulfill different needs.

Perhaps because of this, I don’t have one particular BFF to speak of, but rather several that spring from different circles, with relationships spanning decades, each as intense and committed as the other. They fulfill and validate a different aspect of my life – emotionality, physicality and spontaneity.

My circles fall into three general categories:

  • “girlfriends”
  • adventure buddies and
  • party buddies

Every one of them with a different raison d’etre, closely corresponding to Aristotle’s three concepts of philia – friendships of mutual admiration (and love for what is good), of utility and mutual advantage, and of mutual pleasure.

According to Aristotle, philia must consist of mutual fondness (so inanimate objects are excluded) and is a necessary means to happiness, saying that “No one would choose to live without friends even if he had all the other goods.”

“Girlfriends” are the closest to my heart – these are my friendships of the good. Besides my husband, they are my significant others – the ones with whom I share my dreams, entrust with my deepest, darkest fears, and for whom I have deep affection. Within this category, I have six circles, formed at different times, and corresponding to different stages in my life. Some of them I’ve known since I was seven years old. And some I have just met last year.

(I put girlfriends in quotes because among them, I count three guys – Nelson, Ron and Ray. For all that they have done and all that we have shared, they have truly become a best “girl’s friend.”)

With the second category, my adventure buddies, get-togethers usually revolve around sports. These are my friendships of utility, my playmates – the ones I go white water rafting, rock climbing, skiing and traveling with.

Because our interactions usually require vigorous participation in an activity, there isn’t a lot of time for long, in-depth conversations. Thus, our communication is usually through shared effort, not spoken words.

The friendships of pleasure are my party buddies – our mutual interest in music, dancing, and general debauchery keep us connected. These friends, along with my playmates, help keep me feeling young and vibrant, and enable me to escape from the grinds of daily living.

My BFFs straddle more than one category – their values and ideas almost mirror my own, their interests are as varied as mine, and most importantly, their positive energies invigorate me. My BFFs are my confidants, my playmates, and my party buddies.

The circles aren’t static… they grow and shrink as friends come and go, as their roles in life change from friend, to wife/husband, to mother/father. We all have to balance the need for a healthy social life and private time.

Do circles mostly shrink, though, as we get older? Many argue that with today’s busy lifestyle, it is more difficult than ever to maintain friendships, much less meet new people and admit them into a circle.

A 2006 study by sociologists at Duke University and the University of Arizona, reported in USA Today, found that “on average, most adults only have two people they can talk to about the most important subjects in their lives – serious health problems, for example, or issues like who will care for their children should they die. And about one-quarter have no close confidants at all.”

Two people?

There are 6.6 billion people in the world, 281.4 million in the United States, 34 million in California, and over 7 million people in the San Francisco/Bay Area alone. But on average, most adults only have two people they can talk to? When did intimate relationships become a luxury?

Perhaps technology can help us grow our circles. Friendships are built on blocks of experiences, whether these experiences last a couple of hours or a couple of years. Emails, instant messaging, online status updates all represent micro-blocks of experiences, providing fodder for longer conversations, leading to mutual fondness and trust, and quite possibly, genuine friendships.

And with sufficient effort, fleeting encounters can turn into lifelong relationships. But the key ingredient is effort. Our circles must continue to be nurtured – online, on the phone or in person.