Facebook is an international social phenomenon involving hundreds of millions of participants. So it must be making everyone happy, right? Possibly. But there are some who would argue just the opposite–that Facebook is in fact making us miserable.
It comes down to how we feel about ourselves. Those who study the human condition have observed that we tend to be highly competitive when it comes to ‘happiness.’ Apparently, we’re also very poor at judging the contentment of others. And always have been:
If we only wanted to be happy it would be easy; but we want to be happier than other people, which is almost always difficult, since we think them happier than they are.
Passion & Purpose author Daniel Gulati argues that one reason Facebook and social networking sites make us feel badly about ourselves is because they compel us to compare our lives with those of our peers. Constantly.
“Since our Facebook profiles are self-curated, users have a strong bias toward sharing positive milestones, and avoid mentioning the more humdrum, negative parts of their lives,” writes Mr. Gulati “Accomplishments like, ‘Hey, I just got promoted!’ or ‘Take a look at my new sports car’ trump sharing the intricacies of our daily commute or a life-shattering divorce.”
So while friends are likely to post pictures of their children making adorable faces and wearing cute hats and so on, they aren’t likely to express, for example, how tedious they find parenthood in their status updates. It wouldn’t effectively sell how ‘happy’ they are.
This is why some compare our Facebook identities to fictional characters or airbrushed images. We’re sharing, but we’re sharing stuff that makes us look cool or successful or creative or fulfilled. Actual reality is more nuanced and messier.
Women are especially susceptible because they tend to use Facebook more actively than men, according to Forbes. On social media, males are more likely to share thoughts about news and current events, while women tend to post photos and engage in personal communication about family matters.
Tom DeLong, author of Flying Without a Net, writes, “No matter how successful we are and how many goals we achieve, this trap causes us to recalibrate our accomplishments and reset the bar for how we define success.”
So what should you do, short of closing your Facebook account? “Some useful tactics I’ve seen include blocking out designated time for Facebook rather than visiting intermittently throughout the day, selectively trimming Facebook friends lists to avoid undesirable ex-partners and gossipy coworkers, and investing more time in building off-line relationships,” writes Daniel Gulati.
If Facebook has you feeling badly, it may be wise to take it with a grain of salt and compare your friends’ autobiographical posts and pictures the those of the celebrities you follow. Because let’s face it–now we all have ‘images’ to maintain.
Talk To Us! Do you ever feel as though you don’t ‘measure up’ after checking up on your Facebook friends?
For more information on how Facebook affects your self esteem, please read this previous blog!
Image source: Tecca