The Dangers of Facebook

People tend to focus on all the positives of Facebook.  It’s fun getting in touch with old friends, crushes from middle school, and gaining insight into people’s lives that you don’t get to see everyday.  It’s easy to talk about how much people have gained from social networking.  What isn’t openly spoken about, as often anyway, is the downside of Facebook.  Believe it or not Facebook is not real life.  People get to be whoever they want to be behind a computer screen. So where is the problem in that?  Facebook posts often leave people feeling bad about their own lives.  Others see who has had a baby, gotten engaged, is traveling the world, and has a kick ass new job and then they wonder why their life isn’t as wonderful.

Again back to my main point, Facebook is not real life.  People post what they want you to see not all the things they are embarrassed to let you know.  I’ve had many clients talk about Facebook in my office.  It reminds them of all the things they feel they aren’t doing and where they wish their lives were.

Some things to keep in mind when checking out Facebook:

  • How many friends does someone have on Facebook?
  • How often does someone post updates?
  • Are you friends with this person in real life?
  • Why are you friends with this person in the cyber world?

Let’s talk about why I suggest you think about the above questions.

How many friends does someone have on Facebook?  Articles have been written about narcissism and a connection to how many friends someone has on Facebook.  It makes sense when you think about it so this connection should not be all that surprising.  When someone posts a picture, update, or checks in somewhere they will always have someone there to “like” it when they have 2000 friends to chose from.  Sometimes people post something and then get nervous that it won’t be “liked” by anyone else.  This might prevent them from posting or leave them feeling bad if they feel nobody else appreciated what they had to say.  Then they go and see their friend has 20 “likes” for the most inconsequential post and are left feeling rejected again.  Think about how many friends that person has compared to how many friends you have.  It might start to make sense that they always have someone “liking” what they have to say.

How often does someone post updates?  Who are these people posting 20 things every single day?  Are their lives so interesting that they must share everything with everyone else?  Well if their lives are that amazing why are they spending so much time on Facebook posting about everything? Sometimes people try to convince themselves of the positive by repeating positive affirmations over and over again but it does not mean they believe what they’re saying or in this case posting on Facebook.

Are you friends with this person in “real life”? If the answer is yes then you get to see this person in the flesh, text with them, or chat on the phone with them.  You also know what they are really like and what is actually going on in their real life.  Sometimes you might be surprised to see that your friend with extreme anxiety is posting about how calming life can be.  That person is still struggling even though Facebook isn’t showing that side of him or her.

Why are you friends with this person in the cyber world? You wanted to see what those old friends have been up to for the last five or ten years so you friended them on Facebook or you felt bad saying no to the boy or girl you rarely spoke to in high school who friended you on Facebook.  Now you’ve ended up with all these “friends”.  There’s no rule saying you have to stay friends with them though.  If you don’t talk to them or see them in real life and you find yourself getting upset or frustrated with their posts you have options.  You can hide their updates from your newsfeed, defriend them, or remember that their life online does not have to affect you and how you feel about yourself.

Most of us get lost in the world of Facebook.  It has become a constant distraction that helps us avoid doing things like homework, reading a book, or keeping in touch with our friends in the real world.  It’s hard for all of us to remember that people’s lives on Facebook are just avatars of who they are but it is an important fact to keep in mind.  Enjoy Facebook in whatever way you chose to but when it starts to make you feel down or anxious look over the above questions again.  Put the cyber world on hold and live in the real world.

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