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Facebook. It’s just this little social networking site. Don’t know if you’ve heard of it?
It’s a place where your worlds collide. You can see into the lives of almost everyone you’ve ever (or even ‘never’) met, on a daily (or several times daily – let’s be honest) basis. This can be fun. It can be voyeuristic in the kind of way where someone has actually invited you to stalk them so it kind of makes it OK.
Used wisely, it is a great way to connect with people instantaneously and to share your lives with those who may not always be geographically close to you.
I recently read a news story about increased frequency of Facebook use, being associated with declines in wellbeing. Now I could use all my university educated research skills to analyse this study to bits, but I’m just going to wear my unqualified blogger hat and talk just about my own personal experience. In my personal experience (which may differ from other peoples’), this study is probably onto something.
I love Facebook as much as I loathe it. I use a few different social media platforms, but only Facebook seems to leave me feeling empty, sad and inadequate if I’m in the wrong mood at the wrong time. Sometimes I see the perfect pictures, the happy statuses, the numerous wedding/baby/travel/drunk night out related news feed items, the mushy, gushy ‘get me a bucket stat’ lovers, the people who you know are faking it (the worst ones), the events I can never click on to say I’m “going”. Depending on what is going on in my life (or my brain) at a given time, it can make me feel like crap.
It’s not so much Facebook itself. It’s me as an individual not knowing when to turn my brain off. Not remembering that before Facebook, I had a whole entire life to worry (or not worry) about already. I need to remind myself to take a break. Stop staring at other people’s lives. Sort out my own. Not give a crap what other people are doing – just be happy with what I have (and if I’m not happy to stop comparing myself to others at the very least). I need to remember that Facebook provides a highlight reel of people’s lives. It’s not everything. It’s what we choose to share.
On a bad day, I sit there feeling left out of stuff. I sit there (usually on the couch in my trackie dacks) feeling guilty for not connecting more – in real life. I feel jealous of others (which is very unlike the normal me and is not very becoming). I am reminded of those people who I wished I had the courage to ‘hide’ or unfriend, because I know they don’t make me feel good all the time with their drama llama tendencies or superiority complexes.
I have learnt that it’s best to just switch it off. We’ve brainwashed ourselves into thinking that we must check Facebook ALL THE TIME OR WE MIGHT MISS OUT. Heard of FOMO? It’s the Fear of Missing Out. I feel like we’ve got it bad.
It’s liberating when I realise that it’s OK to skip a day, a weekend, any amount of time. What did we do before mobile phones and mobile internet? We had to wait until we could find a computer (or ask our parents if we could dial up haha). We had to wait until the end of a busy day to check our landline voicemail. We weren’t all available 24/7. We weren’t often communicating with those in different time zones throughout the day and night, unless something important was actually happening. And when I say important, I don’t mean the latest gossip on a website (which I secretly love) or to just say a bunch of “LOL”s about a bunch of cat memes and funny animal photos (which I also kind of like doing).
Everyone expects to be in touch with everyone instantly. Wait a day for a reply on a private Facebook message? AGONY. I feel embarrassed just typing that! Get mad at that friend who doesn’t reply to your witty wall comment within the week/wonder if they even like you after all? Posting a new photo and feeling lonely because no-one ‘liked’ it within the first half hour? Get a push notification on our phones and feel the pain of not being able to check it out right away? Ridiculous, yet I doubt many of us can honestly plead ‘not guilty’ on all charges. Don’t even get me started on ‘phubbing’.
A break from Facebook (when needed) never fails to make me feel better when I’ve been feeling down. Everyone can wait five minutes or five days. Facebook is useful and convenient, but it isn’t everything. There are usually other ways to be contacted if something’s very important.
Sometimes it’s just easy to lose perspective. And also? I find that sometimes, less is more. If I save my most interesting/important statuses for the right moments, only upload the best photos (instead of 50 blurry photos a day every day), people tend to take more notice. It’s not our presence on Facebook that matters most, it’s the quality of our interactions.
Facebook shouldn’t define how we think about our friendships, our own self worth and our life stories. Facebook is a bunch of selected snapshots in time of our lives. It should enhance life, not take away from it.
I know that my personal Facebook profile is probably full of the good/funny times. Maybe I’ve unintentionally annoyed people because of this. Maybe (not having tickets on myself AT ALL) I’ve made someone feel inadequate before. I mean, I really hope not…but odds are if my Facebook friends who are also every day people can make me feel that way (not their faults at all usually – just my insecurities playing up sometimes), it is a possibility. However, I like being real. I might tend to show the highlights on Facebook, but I try to be honest and not give an inaccurate version of my life. I love my blog’s Facebook page, Twitter and my actual blog (yes – this one right here!) because they keep me real. I enjoy showing you my stupid moments and my parenting flaws – it’s strangely therapeutic! You only have to follow me on all the different sites to see all the different facets of my life (hint hint haha). Also, there are some parts of my life that you will only get to know in real life, because they’re private and personal. Remember when things were private and personal?
So let’s check our feelings when we’re perusing our newsfeeds. Let’s decide when we’ve had information overload. Let’s not feel obligated to know everything as it happens, minute by minute. Let’s switch off when we notice our mood dip. That’s what Twitter is for! Kidding! Not really. 😛
How do you feel about Facebook?