Question. Do you remember life before Facebook? I don’t mean that literally of course; Facebook has only been around since 2004 so there’s a good chance you remember what you used to do when you wanted to check in on a friend. You called them. That’s what friends do.
But I do wonder about the impact of the ubiquitous Facebook. So does Daniel Gulati, author of Passion and Purpose. Gulati maintains Facebook, which stated innocuously enough, has become more sinister and problematic now, causing feelings of depression and jealousy among some people. He says the social media behemoth causes us to compare ourselves to others (hence the feelings of jealousy), has fragmented our time and caused a decline in real friendships. Interesting.
I’ll give it that and add a few of my own.
*Facebook fosters feelings of artificial closeness: Before Facebook, when you said “so and so is my friend”, what that meant was that they would lend you their last dime or bail you out of jail at 3:46 am. On a school night. Now it just means, more often than not, you hit the “confirm” button because someone asked you to.
*Facebook brings our inner narcissist front and center: All of us, myself included. That beast is fed by our perpetual need to announce what we’re doing, where we’re going and sharing thoughts and feelings we otherwise would just chew on while alone in the car. What makes us think that people, in their busy lives, give a damn about how we scored a deal on avocados at ShopRite. Just because we say it, doesn’t make it important outside of our own minds.
*Facebook lends itself to carpet bombers: It seems that this is becoming normal, online behavior. Any sort of decorum goes out the window and people feel like they can say any ol’ damn thing they want, rude or not. You know why? Because it’s what THEY THINK and furthermore they THINK YOU should know it. So they dip into your page and hijack conversations with their points of view. Disturbing doesn’t even begin to sum it up.
*Facebook breeds familiarity and you know what familiarity breeds: Oh boy. Recently I was checking on a friend’s Facebook status and I realized after I left, how negative this person was. But the truly sobering part was how bad I felt after reading the update, like I needed a hot shower to cleanse the crap being spewed. Until that time, I had been feeling pretty good; things are clicking with GEM and my years of hard work are about to pay off in a big way. I need this little engine firing on all cylinders and there’s no room for those well-versed in the, “Woe is me” song and dance. I couldn’t remember whether this person had always been this negative or if this was recent development. One thing was certain; I realized it’s time for a little distance.
Personally I think Facebook, like anything else, can be good. Or bad. But if you’re miserable because you’re reading someone’s rosy status updates, do yourself a favor, stop. And while you’re at it, stop comparing yourself to others. That might just do the trick.
What do you think about this? Is Facebook making us miserable? Is it to blame for our feelings of inadequacy and unhappiness? What other negative things do you think it fosters and is it here to stay or will people eventually start backing away from it? Oh and if you like this piece, go ahead and click the Facebook icon below.