Is Facebook making you sad?
I remember when social media first came out- people were EXCITED about the idea that you could have your own little corner of the web, for free. You could post pictures! You could send your friends PDA! You could get drunk and secretly stalk your old classmates!
You could “connect” on a different level.
People said “This is FANTASTIC!” And we quickly uploaded all of our personal history and gladly handed over information about our friends. We thought this was the coolest thing since cell phones.
Now, we are seeing a shift in our society- people are starting to become depressed from social media. Are you one of them?
I know I get depressed when I log onto Facebook.
Does this happen to you?
If you are not sure whether or not Facebook is affecting your mental well-being, read the following scenario below to see if it resonates:
You wake up in the morning and grab a cup of coffee. You sit down on the couch, sipping your large cup o’ Joe, and you get the “itch” to log into your Facebook account (to see “what’s going on in the world”).
Your mind is instantly bombarded with pictures of other people’s kids, short ramblings of nothing, work updates, advertisements, farmville stats, inspirational quotes, political statements, and…pictures of cats. Oh, and your grandma just tagged you in a bunch of unflattering pictures…without your permission.
Somewhere along the scanning of updates, your brain starts to…feel BAD about your own life, or the state of our society. Why?
You may even have a stream of thoughts such as this:
“That’s so pretty! I wish I could go to Hawaii.
Aww that is so freaking cute…but really 20 pictures? Enough already.
Janet is such a floozy.
Why is there not an unlike button?
Oh that looks good…wish I could have that for lunch.
I need a new job.
I need to paint my house.
I need furniture. Janet has nice furniture.
Reminder, Janet is a hussy.
God, what time is it?
Geez, Janet has like, 5,000 friends…there’s no way she knows that many people.
I need to call her.
I need that dress.
I need a new life.
I need to post a new status…Hmmmm. Eh, I’ll just post this inspirational picture instead.
I feel better!
NO ONE CARES WHAT YOU ARE DOING JANET!
I feel worse.
It’s been an hour? I’m wasting my life.”
And on and on and on.
Sounds familiar? I hope so, otherwise I come off as a complete insecure psycho that hates Janet with a passion.
But it’s true- we see these things that our “friends” do, and we either feel that horrible sting of envy creeping in or feel holier than thou. It makes us feel like something is missing.
Because it’s not REAL communication.
And it’s not real connection. It’s broken bits of false reality.
Facebook is bad for our mental state
When we get on Facebook, we aren’t serving a purpose, or doing anything (for the most part) to change society. When we experience this bombardment of pointless stimulus, it does something to our brains.
It’s actually what they call “learned helplessness.” Look it up, it’s right here.
When we feel like we have no control and our actions don’t matter (because it’s been broken down into a series of likes and status updates), we start to behave in a helpless manner in our real lives.
We feel like life has boiled down to this pathetic wall of noise. And it kinda sucks.
Learned helplessness is associated with depression, anxiety, and… *sigh* loneliness.
Does Facebook make you feel lonely? It makes me feel that way. Does Facebook make you feel like something is missing in your life, because everyone else seems to be doing fun things, hanging out with each other, and…you are sitting on your couch… watching them? Feeling alone…feeling sad…feeling freaking pathetic because this is a social media site for crying out loud?
I’m going to take the vulnerable road here and admit..YES I DO feel like that, particularly with Facebook. I’m “on” other social media, but it’s primarily for blog purposes, and I don’t really “know” the people I interact with. It affects me on a different level.
Facebook….with the pictures and story lines of all my high school “friends” and mommy acquaintances…it just makes me….feel bad about myself. And I know it shouldn’t, but it does.
There, I said it. It makes me feel insecure. Laugh if you want to.
Facebook is bad for business
Are you a blogger who wants to reach people about your super awesome blog? Well forget using Facebook!
Now, if you’ve been doing this for years and built up your following, perhaps you don’t have as much trouble. If this is you, then by all means, carry on. However, if you are trying to break into the stream, good luck.
Facebook has continuously made it difficult for pages, bloggers, and artists to promote their stuff, WITHOUT paying a fee. Notice the “promote this post” and the push for paying for likes? Yeah, I thought so. The only business Facebook cares about is business for Facebook.
Currently, it’s not just a matter of “liking” a page- if someone likes your page, you better hope they really like you! Facebook censors pages and will not automatically insert your feed into your likers feeds (they have to manually add it, freaking ridiculous!). In fact, Facebook is really crappy in general about this- they only show you what they “think” you want to see- and that means PAID advertising, OLD posts, and NONE of the pages you actually want to see!
They want to keep users ON their site, so they hide posts with links to your blog and regurgitate irrelevant posts.
In other words, they make it really damn hard for small time bloggers like me.
Furthermore, as illustrated beautifully in this blog (you can read it here), Facebook is stealing videos. 725 of Facebook’s top 1000 videos last quarter were stolen from creators. Talk about ugly!
Is it REALLY REALLY that bad?
Now there are some people that will completely disagree with me, saying that they have connected to old friends, met people, joined groups, and yada yada yada. If you have, good for you! If you enjoy it, keep doing it.
I mean sure, I’ve had a flow of positive/convenient things happen. When my cousin had her baby, I could actually see pictures. When my brother-in-law Doug died, I was able to dip into the stream and receive support plus contact everyone about funeral arrangements with a single post. I have joined homeschooling groups and been able to buy used curriculum or ask questions about a particular homeschooling block.
But, 95% of what I see doesn’t make me feel good about myself. It’s not just the people- it’s the ads, the controlled leak of information, the censorship…it’s everything.
And I think people get depressed because life wasn’t meant to be like this. We should be making real connections, getting out in nature and feeling good about ourselves. I mean, if I haven’t spoken to you since 1998, does it really matter now?
This post is meant to serve those that DO have a problem with it, but maybe are afraid to log off…permanently.
You won’t find real happiness on an app
In general, whether it be Facebook or other social media, if you start to FEEL BAD about yourself, it’s time to do something about it.
You won’t find yourself in social media.
You can, however, find yourself on a long stroll in the woods, by picking daisies, feeling your hair whip around you on a breezy day, or through a meditation that opens up your heart chakra.
The truth is, social media is not the source of real friendship or happiness.
These things come from having a REAL connection to REAL people in REAL time. Studies have shown that people feel good about life when they have A) a purpose, and B) a real community. Do I feel like these things can be achieved online?
I mean, I do have a blog and I do have an Instagram account, so I hope that I can generate a feeling of community and serve some sort of “purpose” online. I’m also grateful for the fact that we can exchange ideas in a snap through an email or a blog or a picture.
Yes I believe I can make connections, however, the depth of my relationships that I build can’t be measured by status updates or likes.
It takes work, outside of social media.
I have also come to recognize that my value does not rest in how many blogs I post, or likes I get on my pictures.
If I turned all this off, and logged out forever…it wouldn’t make me less of a person. I’m still me. Without this screen.
My value comes from within, and it has nothing to do with the internet.
My happiness comes with loving myself, my family, and the people involved away from the screen.
The internet just distracts me from this love…what about you?
What can you do? (The good news!)
For the short term, just log off. Seriously. Hun, you aren’t missing a damn thing. The internet never sleeps, and everything will be there tomorrow.
In the meantime, do something valuable in real time. CALL your friend and have a legit conversation.
Go to the park and walk the trail.
Make dinner. Or paint.
Do anything that doesn’t involve “updating” the entire world…and…leave your phone out of it (unless you are actually using it for a phone call! Imagine that!). Simplify your life.
For the long term, please, please, please, limit your social media and Facebook time!
(Side note: I honestly wouldn’t have social media at all if it wasn’t for my blog.)
If you find yourself getting the “itch” to check, this is an indicator that you are having a screen addiction. Stop, breathe, and assess yourself. What is missing? Do you need a hug? Are you bored? What are you not getting that you need in this moment?
And as for Facebook, if you have anxiety like I do, PLEASE for the love of all that is holy….DELETE IT or TURN OFF YOUR PROFILE (or be like me and just never log in again). Don’t think I’m yelling darling, I’m just emphasizing this because it’s so, so important.
Release this thing that is not longer serving you.
And never look back.
You are so much more than an update, a like, 140 characters or a meme.