One Woman’s Quest To Overcome Anxiety By Meeting All 325 Of Her Facebook Friends
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Some people are more stringent than others about who they will accept a friend request from on Facebook. (I used to accept anyone but now I’ve been deleting the strangers and accepting only those I actually know.) But one Chicago woman suffering from agoraphobia made it her New Year’s resolution for 2011 to overcome the disorder by meeting all 325 of her Facebook friends in person over the course of the year.
The woman in question is 51-year-old writer ArLynn Presser and she has done what she set out to do. The writer blogged about her long-time fear and anxiety and quickly added friends on the social networking site when they heard about her idea. Some were people she already knew (relatives,friends) while others were complete strangers. “Her trek took her on 39 flights to 13 different countries. She traveled to Canada, the Philippines, Germany, Italy, Dubai, India, and Ireland to name a few,” says Yahoo.
Chicago filmmaker Benjamin Gonzales created a documentary about Presser, already an acquaintance, and recently spoke to the Huffington Post about it. Titled Face to Facebook, the film wasn’t originally about anxiety but he soon realized that was the most interesting thing about it. “I told her this is a really huge thing,” he told them. “Not only are you trying to conquer your own fears, anxieties and phobias, but it’s a really bold task to meet all these people around the world no matter who you are, turning what would be just a visual connection into something real, making that real connection. And I thought this would make a great movie.”
Gonzales has a Kickstarter currently running to raise money to finish producing the film and distribute it. “She’s a nice, kind, caring person who genuinely cares about what you have to say. And I wanted to capture this aspect of her personality. She’s not just there for herself, she’s really interested in who these people are and what kind of friends she has,” said Gonzales. “I wanted to tell this story of, sort of, the caterpillar turning into a butterfly, going out and seeing the world in a way unlike anything she’s ever done. But that’s only half the movie. In order to explain the gravity of what she’s doing, it was essential to give a good sense of what it means to have anxiety and panic attacks and agoraphobia.”
According to Yahoo, not everyone was thrilled with the idea. In the end, Presser met 292 Facebook friends. “Most of her virtual friends welcomed the idea of meeting in person, but some people blocked or unfriended her,” they wrote. “Presser says that social networking on sites such as Facebook helped her mask her agoraphobia. However, there were times when her anxiety was so acute that she was convinced she was having a heart attack. She would even go to the ER in the worst-case scenarios. Presser’s advice to people trying to overcome their fears: ‘Do one brave thing a day, and then run like hell.'”