The Codependent Parent-Child Dynamic in Facebook Groups

​In this article I talk about the codependent proverbial “parent-child” dynamic exemplified in a group context and how our current behaviors stifle growth. I have been writing on this topic now for several years after seeing how people behave in online communities. I noticed a perverted  relationship that exists between Facebook admins and their members.

We are talking about spirituality a lot these days. We’re looking for ways to advance. Some of us want to advance so that we don’t have to continue living in pain. However the ironic thing is that to develop spiritually, we must allow triggers instead of running from them. We must feel pain instead of escaping it. We need to resist the temptation to control everything. Our whole world is revolved around how we can numb our pain or prevent it. If anything brings humanity together, it’s that. We all hate pain, so what can we do to keep it out of our lives? We can see this reflected in online communities. Facebook groups are important to look at as it exposes, in a very general sense, the collective soul for what it is. We’re not honest in person. Online however, we are much more transparent, inadvertently, but still transparent enough to catch some behavioral trends we’ve have normalized.

How do we behave as group members? When we see an opinion we don’t like, how to we behave? When we see advertising, how do we behave? When we get a private message that makes us feel uncomfortable, how to we behave? Do we resolve our own problems in private by ourselves or do we tattletail to admin as the helpless victim? Do we know FB has tools for our problems? Do we use the FB tools available to streamline our own experiences or do we resort to the victim role that blames and needs a parental figure (admin) to band-aid our wounds when we fall down at play time?

How do we admin behave in groups? How do we manage these groups? What rules do we create? How do we enforce them? Are the rules based on logic? Are they emotional? Are they an attempt to seize power over others to make up for the powerlessness we feel inside? Do we listen to the members? Do we see members as our humble equals or do we see ourselves as superior? Are we open to criticism? Do we run the group with flexibility or are we stubbornly set in our ways? How much, if we can be brutally honest here, is ego is involved?

By looking at online groups, we can see all the different levels of consciousness we’re all at. How we behave in groups really is a tell-all.

I’m always looking at different groups out of curiosity — not actually joining them all the time, but being nosy and seeing what their group description says and I notice something that most group administrators have in common. When you look at the group rules, pretty much all of them are not based on logic, reality or reason, but rather reinforces the victim mindset and hierarchical-based politics. It teaches us that when we are triggered, it’s someone else’s business. It teaches us to blame someone else when we feel uncomfortable. “It’s their fault so I’ve gotta tell mommy and daddy so that they get punished and stop making me feel uncomfortable” kinda mindset. Nevermind those who join are grown-ups. It’s ironic that many of these groups are either based on health or spirituality, but true health and spirituality, part of it anyway, is about becoming sovereign and taking responsibility for our feelings, owning them and eventually releasing them. Hurt is a call to do our inner-work and start realizing the REAL reasons we are triggered. We don’t like pain, so someone’s gotta take it away — hello admin, help! This attitude is fine when you’re a kid since kids need guidance and real help. Our parents, when we were kids, were the ones responsible for protecting us so that we may survive the outside world as adults. But how far did that get us if we still cannot take care of ourselves? Why can’t we take care of ourselves? Probably because we might have been conditioned to believe that someone else is always responsible for our problems. Perhaps we learned how to be a victim from our parents if they blamed us kids for all their personal problems? Now, as a disclaimer, I am not talking about ACTUAL abuse here. In cases of actual abuse, the perpetrator is responsible for harming others. Still then, we are ALWAYS responsible for our own feelings and perception of events. Responsibility, whether trauma or not, is all-inclusive. Every party owns something that is theirs. Just know, I am talking about frivolous group censorship here. Not rape.

Also if our parents were not behaving like parents, maybe we didn’t get the care, protection and guidance we needed and as adults, we look to Facebook admins to fill that role? We might be unconsciously still looking for someone to parent us?

I just imagine a group full of adult babies when reading a long list of rules for each group. For those who are awake, you might know freedom is lacking in our world. It’s not so much because tyrants rule over us, but more to do with the fact that we don’t like freedom. We don’t like owning ourselves. We NEED tyrants. We love blame. Blame takes precedence over being responsible for our own experiences, for our own triggers and for our own health, (spiritual, physical, mental or otherwise.)

Admins sometimes make rules so they don’t have to feel pain and members tattletail so they don’t have to feel pain. Well, we can only go so far in the preventing of pain….eventually, it’s going to come after us. ;)

I see censorship and depending on the group, some do really need censorship to cooperate with international law or FB’s own community guidelines. I understand that. However, 99% of the time, the censorship I see online is frivolous, inconsistent, power-hungry and has no basis in reason or logic. And the admin not only gets away with illogical rules, they are celebrated, supported and even encouraged by the members.
FB members have the option to accept or decline an ad, to look at or ignore and have tools to block and hide posts from others. If we all used the tools at hand to take responsibility for our own online experiences, we wouldn’t need parental figures (admin) to do anything. And maybe someone even might want to buy that snake oil? Why not? Let’s say this snake oil is unhealthy and could make people sick? Now here we are run into international law/lawsuit culture, but interestingly enough, international law also assumes we cannot take care of ourselves. The truth is if I buy snake oil and get sick, it’s my own fault for not vetting out the salesperson and doing enough research to discern if the seller is legitimate. Is someone selling a book? Maybe I want it? If it’s an off topic post? Why do we need an admin for that? Why not ask the person to try to be more on topic? Why can’t we just talk to each other and work things out with each other about what bothers us? Why do we need online parents? Why can’t we take care of ourselves? You might doubt that would ever work and it is only because we are too afraid to even try. We are so steeped in our conditioning and in our own helplessness as adults, we cannot even entertain that there could be another way. And even if we did try, we might be too fragile to handle taking a complex situation and remodel it to make it better in the case of any errors, so we might use our brief failure from our experiences to continue censoring other people. The conditioning is that deep.

In an effort to inspire others to behave like adults online, in my own group, I have created the below “rules” for the group I admin:

There are no frivolous rules here. Assuming we are all adults and all have free will and take personal responsibility for our own lives, if you get triggered by a post, comment or private message, it is on YOU to be responsible for it. If you received a PM that makes you feel creeped out, please report it to FB and/or block the offender. If a crime has been committed, please call emergency services in your jurisdiction and again, report and block the offender. In terms of group posts and comments, FB has numerous tools that we can use to hide, block, or ignore individuals who might make us feel uncomfortable. I am savvy in this area and if you need help, let me know. We can also scroll on or just choose not to look at uncomfortable exchanges between two or more parties. Also, we can even use our triggers, instead of choosing to be a victim, to grow from by sitting with the unpleasant feelings associated with those triggers and feeling them.

So long as we make excuses for censorship, we remain in spiritual infancy. This is literal. We are still babies when we cannot solve problems on our own and take charge of our own lives. And we are also still babies when we use our own feelings of powerlessness to control other people for it’s sake. Hierarchical structures in the real world only exist because we like them. We don’t like freedom because to be free means we have to be responsible for ourselves. To truly be free, we need to, as admin also, give others their freedom, even the freedom to make mistakes and fail. Of course, to even understand this concept of self-responsibility, we need to be in a certain place to accept that or at the very least, entertain the foreign concept of autonomy.

It’s no easy task to grow up in a world that glorifies the victim. Look at the lawsuit culture in America. Somebody trips on a grape at the supermarket, they sue and make a lot of money off of that. Our laws are structured to make it the fault of the business instead of the individual. Our laws teach us that if you make a mistake, it’s someone else’s fault. Our medical establishment teaches us the same. If we are sick, rather than identifying our poor habits and removing those which might have caused the illness, we are indirectly encouraged to blame everything and anything but ourselves… and here’s a little something to numb the symptoms….

Learned helplessness is so deeply ingrained into our psyche. Life happens. Making mistakes and falling down is a part of life. Why can’t we own that? Why can’t we pull ourselves off the ground and start over and try to do better? If you call me a name, you are responsible for doing that, but I am responsible for how I feel and react to it. If you come over my house and trip on a banana peel, I am responsible for my messy home, but you are responsible for not watching where you’re going. When we blame, that keeps us from making the effort to do better. When we don’t own ourselves, growth is stunted.

When will we grown-ups ever put on our grown-up pants?

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