Profiles in Catholicism
 

An Interview with Dr. Suzana Flores


by
Gordon Nary




 

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Gordon:   When did you join St. Michael The Archangel Parish in Chicago?
     
Dr. Flores:   I was baptized and confirmed at  in the South Side of Chicago. I spent the majority of my childhood and young adult life at St. Michael’s where (through teachings and various activities/events) I learned the importance of family and community. No matter where I go in life, MY church will always be St. Michael’s because it was there that I learned valuable lessons which I continue to practice to this day.
     
Gordon:























 
 

Congratulations on all of the great reviews that your book Facehooked: How Facebook Affects Our Emotions, Relationships, and Lives has received. Here are just a few of them

“Facehooked talks about how teens connect through social-media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and YouTube. Now more than ever, teens have a voice in the world and can even make a serious social impact! The only problem is—some people get into trouble when they share too much. Kids seem to feel obligated and addicted to responding and uploading to Facebook when it’s not really necessary; doing so just adds more pressure and raises the potential of posting things they normally wouldn’t or shouldn’t. Whether online or logged off, I think people can express themselves any way they want as long as they treat each other with respect and stay true to themselves.”
—Sean Giambrone, Actor, The Goldbergs


“When it comes to understanding the world of teen online interaction, Dr. Flores gets it. Facehooked sums up what I’ve suspected is happening with today’s teens. Dr. Flores provides a valuable wealth of information regarding smartphone and social-media addiction, digital expression, and the negative (and positive) effects of sharing personal information through various social networks. She clearly explains the influence social media can have on teen expression and self-perception, and provides clear guidelines for parents on how they can protect their teens’ privacy. Facehooked is an intelligent, comfortable, and important read for any student, parent, school administrator and policy-maker who wishes to understand how social media is shaping today’s ‘Digital Natives.’”
—Dr. Matthew Clark, Child and Adolescent Psychologist, Director of The Clark Institute

“Dr. Flores offers a compelling and genius look at what is really going on when seeking that Facebook fix. Is your hidden agenda personal validation? Creating a fantasy life? Or are you actually addicted? Her explanations are eye-opening and will make you rethink how and why you interact on Facebook every time you log on.”
—Shawne Duperon, Six Time EMMY winner and Founder of Project: Forgive
 

What initially interested you in developing your expertise in social media as a primary communications resource?  

     
Dr. Flores:





 
  I was working in private practice in Chicago when I began noticing a shift in my client’s clinical presentation—namely Facebook. It seemed that every day my clients would share how Facebook interactions were triggering feelings of inadequacy, jealousy, depression and anxiety. Then one day, a client called me in a panic requesting an emergency session. He told me that his coworkers told him to check his fiancé’s Facebook profile immediately. It turned out she had changed her Relationship Status from “Engaged” to “In a Relationship With” and substituted his name and photograph for that of his best friend’s. In other words, my client discovered his engagement was over through Facebook, and that most of his family members and friends discovered this before he did. My client was devastated, not only because of the breakup, but because of the public humiliation. It was at that point that I asked myself, “What is happening to people? How is it even possible that someone could think it appropriate to share something so private; so intimate, on a social media platform?” My client was so overwhelmed he became suicidal and was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. It was at that moment I decided to interview Facebook users on both their positive and negative experiences and to write a book based on said interviews.
     
Gordon:   If youth ministries are trying to communicate more effectively with  young people, what social media platforms do you recommend?
     
Dr. Flores:   With over 2.07 billion monthly active users, Facebook continues to be the most utilized social media platform. However, most Millennials (aka: Digital Natives) have moved towards other platforms such as Twitter and Instagram. I would recommend these platforms as a means to most effectively reach out to young people.
     
Gordon:   In your opinion, how could parishes use social media more effectively?
     
Dr. Flores:


 
  There are many benefits to communicating through social media platforms. In today’s digitally connected world, we can contact someone across the globe in a matter of seconds, interact with others with similar interests, and reach out to individuals who have difficulty leaving their homes due to medical reasons. If masses are video recorded, they can be shared through Facebook so viewers who cannot attend church can continue to feel connected to their parish. Additionally, updates can be shared with parishioners through these networks. As more and more people continue to use Facebook as a main avenue for communication, parishes can use this platform to share information and messages of inspiration.  
     
Gordon:   There have been an increasing number of report on cell phone addiction.  How is cell phone addiction diagnosed and what are some of the therapies?
     
Dr. Flores:

 

 

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-V (DSM-V) there is no official diagnosis for smartphone addiction—although I believe there should be. Many individuals report experiencing “ring anxiety” and will check their phones even when it does not ring. Additionally, research shows that whenever we receive a phone push notification, we receive Dopamine hits to the pleasure areas of the brain. I have recommended to clients that in order to reduce “phone checking” behavior an initial step is to turn off the push notifications. This way, you get to decide when and how you use your phone, versus the other way around.

     
Gordon:   You are a popular national and international media commentator and have appeared  PBS, Al Jazeera,​ National Public Radio (NPR), Sirius XM Channel, WGN Radio.  Univision Television News, Mundo FOX, and many others  What was of the most  memorable question that your were asked and your response?
     
Dr. Flores:



 
  Truthfully, the most memorable question I’ve received is how the President’s Twitter use affects Americans and what I think about this new phenomenon. I answered that I believe the office of the Presidency is too important for ANY president to share important information in just 140 characters (Twitter). Based on my work and the potential negative emotional effects of social media, what is occurring is my worst nightmare realized. We are experiencing mass accounts of anxiety, fear, and even terror because it is only natural that people will make assumptions based on brief snippets of information. As mentioned, there are many benefits to social media interactions; however, with power comes responsibility. Social media can never replace face-to-face communication of even a televised address from the president. It is my hope that the president gains an understanding of how his Twitter posts are negatively affecting Americans and people around the world. 
     
Gordon:   Thank you for a great interview. I suggest that our readers also check out your website.