Woman Conquers Fear by Meeting Facebook Friends Face to Face

Melissa Knowles
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What are you most afraid of? One woman's debilitating anxiety disorder is to blame for her fear of being in situations that are not easy to escape or embarrassing to do so. ArLynn Presser, a writer who lives in a suburb of Chicago, made a 2011 resolution to overcome her agoraphobia. How did she set do it? She decided over the course of a year that she would try to meet all 325 of her Facebook friends--in person.

Chicago filmmaker Benjamin Gonzales, an acquaintance of Presser's, decided to chronicle her journey in a documentary titled, "Face to Facebook." Gonzales said he initially got involved because he was fascinated by Presser's attempt to make a "visual connection into something real." Presser said she rarely left her community or even her home for most of her adult life. Presser added that she was even afraid of getting on a plane. On December 31, 2010, Presser blogged about wanting to conquer her fear and planning to travel the world to meet her Facebook friends. 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.

Presser now says that the idea of doing what she once called "insanity" has not only helped her overcome agoraphobia, it has also given her new skill sets as well as acquainted her with 292 of her virtual friends. Among the new activities Presser experienced were riding in a motorcycle sidecar, learning to sing opera, training to be a bodyguard, and climbing a mountain in California. Most of her virtual friends welcomed the idea of meeting in person, but some people blocked or unfriended her. 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." Presser and Gonzales plan to release their joint video blog in the fall. To help them raise funding to finish their film, they started a Kickstarter Campaign with a goal of raising $15,000 by January 13. So far, they've raised just under $2,000.

From one person bringing social networking to life to conquer her fears, to a media tycoon joining the Twitter nation and causing a public backlash all in the span of 24 hours.

News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch is the latest high-profile person to open a Twitter account, and in a matter of hours has already made his first gaffe. Murdoch joined Twitter on December 31, 2011, and quickly accumulated more than 85,000 followers. The media tycoon's tweets covered a number of topics, but there's one tweet in particular that stirred a public backlash. Murdoch's tweet read, "maybe Brits have too many holidays for broke country." A number of people in England expressed their outrage on Twitter. But the story does not end there. A reply that appeared to be from Murdoch's wife, Wendi Deng, tried to get him to delete the tweet. On January 1, a verified Deng account replied to Murdoch with the message, "RUPERT!!! delete tweet!" While Murdoch did delete the tweet, it was not because of his wife. Although several news outlets reported the account was real because of its verified status, the @WendiDeng handle set the record straight this morning, saying the account is fake and does not belong to Murdoch's wife.