I am the Wandering Scott, and I am addicted to Social Media. In all likelihood, so are you.
Social Media has grown and expanded over the years. Facebook, Instagram, Vine, and Pinterest are but a few varieties. The more quirky among you may even think of Google Plus. Regardless of which version of Social Media you think of, they all exist with the same general goal: to help us share our lives with each other. Goals and reality are not always the same, however. Often, Social Media, rather than bringing us together, instead divides us. Rather than making us feel enveloped in our social network, it can make us feel isolated. Rather than loved and supported, we might just feel lonely and envious. It is that paradox of Social Media that this post is about.
As I began to write this post, I found it getting larger and larger. Eventually, it got to the point where I felt I either had to very briefly touch upon each of the subjects, or else I would have to post a monstrously huge post and hope that some people would want to read it. I didn’t really care for either of those options, and so instead we’re going to shake things up a bit around here. For the first time on this blog, I’m doing a multi-part post. For the next 3 weeks, I’m going to be posting about this subject. As the first course of this Social Media meal, we’re going to be talking about something called Facebook Depression.
Have you ever visited Facebook, only to feel depressed after? Have you ever looked at your friends’ photos, only to either feel inadequate or as if you aren’t quite living your life like how you should? The good news is you’re not alone. According to a study done in Germany, 1/3 of us regularly experience feelings like this after browsing Facebook. They called this ‘Facebook Depression’. From the study, they found that use of Facebook could result in feelings of lower self worth or life satisfaction. They also found that more frequent users of Facebook tended to feel a less genuine sense of empathy.
Let’s think about this for a second. Why might using Facebook make us feel less satisfied about our own lives? Well, take a look at your newsfeed for a second. Depending on your age, I’m guessing that you’re going to see some mixture of the following: engagement announcements, baby announcements, travel pictures, event pictures, brag posts, and other nice things. Oh, and ads. Lots and lots of ads. Facebook is a highlight reel. Sure, sometimes we’ll post sad things, but not often. In general, we keep our posts, statuses, and pictures to show our very best sides. We want people looking at our social media reflections to see us as shiny and perfect creatures, living a good life. Looking at it like that, is it any wonder that we can’t help but feel as if our own lives are falling short when everybody else’s lives appear to be so good and full?
When we only have these highlight reels to compare our lives to, it becomes very easy to feel inadequate. It becomes very easy to compare ourselves to these fake lives, and to feel as if we simply aren’t measuring up. I believe that these impossible comparisons are the source of our unhappiness following social media.
Facebook is a great social tool. It helps to form and maintain connections, and it helps to remind us of where we fit in our own social networks. Too often, however, we end up getting a false impression from Facebook, especially from those that we don’t often see in real life.
What happens though, when we don’t have that real life knowledge of the person to compare what we see and what they present? Join me next week to take a look at the phenomenon known as Lifestyle Stalking.
The Wandering Scott