So, today I wanted to write about something that has plagued me for the last 7 years of my life. Facebook, the social media tool, has been a constant for me ever since I was in the 8th grade. I have posted thousands of photos, deleted photos, posted and deleted comments and posts, played games, messaged people, looked up pages, and done tons of other things I would not have been able to do were it not for this specific social media tool.
I have also become so overwhelmed by Facebook and all the people and constant flow of information that I have deactivated it, sometimes for months at a time, sometimes for almost a year. This has occurred multiple times- me deactivating and reactivating my Facebook account, so I just wanted to analyze myself, my actions, and the thing that causes my reactions: Facebook.
Firstly, I am both a supporter for and a protester against social media. Let me be clear. I enjoy Facebook for it’s various useful purposes, but I also despise it for all the harm it causes in my life and the lives of people around me.
Firstly, I will list all of the things I hate about Facebook, then to lighten it up, I will list the benefits I have discovered over the years.
Horrible things about Facebook:
a) It breeds insecurity.
Facebook has caused me so much grief in the past 7 years of me being an on and off user, because I have felt the need to post words, pictures, or events in order to feel confident and part of something. I have been pressured to post selfies and felt the necessity to share with the world everything I am doing, all the while reading about all the great things other people are doing or witnessing all the beauty in other people’s lives. I have seen ONE side of the two-sided story that is each individual’s life. Their life on Facebook and in public is one side, and their life at home and the true nature of their heart is another side. I have spent hours crying over something someone posted that I thought was about me or being frustrated about someone not being my friend on Facebook. I have spent time arguing pointlessly on Facebook, telling people they were wrong or defending friends against ignorant bullies. I have gone through thousands of pictures and compared myself to thousands of people (none of which is healthy, by the way). Facebook became a tool for me to look at my life through the lens of everyone else’s success, and this is a problem. It bred insecurity in me, and kept me from being the person I wanted to be because I was so focused on selfies and cute, funny status updates.
b) It creates an environment of callous behavior
People do NOT care what they say or who they hurt via Facebook. It takes away any accountability. Most of the things people say on Facebook to someone they would never say to their face, and that is a problem. Communication should be top priority for people, and using Facebook to put people down is not the right way to act on thoughts or feelings towards someone. Also, people are crude in their comments about your appearances. They will say disrespectful things about the way you look, like a person would catcall you on the streets. This is not okay, either. It is the same slander that any person who was bullied would deal with. Sexual harassment is so much easier over Facebook, which is unacceptable.
c) Facebook turns a happy life into a commodity
Let’s face it, nobody posts negative statuses about how their lives are not going well, or pictures of headstones with a family member’s name on it, or anything else that would “bring down” their fellow “friends” on Facebook. If they do, they are usually met with the passive-aggressive unfollow button, which allows their friends to stop seeing them post on Facebook. People do not want to see bad news, and instead of coming together and helping the person cheer up, they chastise them for being negative. I, myself have a hard time seeing negative posts on Facebook. The way I see it, though, if you cannot read a negative post from someone and respond to it positively, you probably are either not a true friend to them or you are dealing with your own problems and cannot handle their issues, in which case you should remove yourself from Facebook, because they are reaching out for help. OR you can delete them from your page, because you probably have a couple hundred acquaintances on your account anyway (don’t we all?) Everyone showcases their good things in life, and everyone who may not be entirely happy at the moment gets it all shoved in their face, while the rest of everyone’s life is hidden away, all their sorrows and fears and pains. If it is so hard to share the bad stuff, why is it so easy to share the good?
d) Facebook is a time-waster
Wow, how many hours have I spent on Facebook? Too many to count. This would be fine, if it were productive. But all that happens when a person scrolls through Facebook all day is that their mind is overloaded with information, and when they try to relax, their subconscious keeps them from doing so because their brain is trying to process all the things they took in that day. Also, their eyes might be a little sore from staring at a screen for so long. It is damaging physically, mentally, and emotionally to be stuck on Facebook all day, watching videos and reading articles and hearing about EVERYONE’s lives. In fact, you probably would not spend 5 minutes calling 99% of these people to catch up, so why look at their profiles? Why be their friends? My friends list needs to be tidied up a little bit.
e) Facebook devalues relationships
Okay, firstly I will start by saying that Facebook encourages people to connect or hook up with people from their past, which may perhaps damage current relationships. People turn to Facebook out of boredom, not out of a desire for connection, and this causes everyone to see people as more of just words on a screen rather than actual people dealing with actual life struggles and situations. Instead of a meaningful phone call or even a text, a message is sent or a wall post is made, or a “happy birthday” is thrown carelessly onto another person’s profile. You are unable to connect with someone over Facebook as well as you would be able to if you met with them face to face, with no electronics around. This is why people get along with and know their coworkers so deeply. During down time, cell phones are not allowed so they talk about real things, not the latest presidential candidate blunder and the funniest meme. People connect over deep things, not surface level media garbage. Facebook devalues family, friend, and acquaintances relationships.
f) Facebook encourages narcissism
This one is a difficult topic, because most people from my generation, the millennials, love posting selfies. My beef with this aspect of Facebook is that everyone BRAGS openly about their lives, and there is no humility on Facebook when it comes to achievements or life goals. When someone is getting married, the photos are EVERYWHERE. It seems like it is no longer so sacred, so special and so personal because the whole world is becoming a part of the engagement, the wedding, and then eventually the marriage. The sharing seems innocent, but really what are you doing by posting every picture of your engagement, wedding, and life? You are giving up a piece of it. Sharing it with family is great, but does every acquaintance need to know every step, every part of your wedding celebration? Do they deserve to be a part of that, when they were not invited? I feel like a few pictures are great, but it is difficult to see everyone posting constant updates and forcing all of their information out into the world when they should just sit back and enjoy it. How many selfies can a person post in one day? How many likes does one person want or need before they feel fulfilled? It beats me.
Soooo, now that my audience either really hates me or is starting to understand why Facebook is harmful, I will tell you that there is a positive side to this post! Facebook has some really good qualities, which I will go through.
a) Facebook allows you to stay in contact with friends and family you may not get to see or hear from every day.
b) Facebook educates the public about current events that many people would not read up on otherwise
c) Facebook serves as entertainment, providing videos and pictures and other things that may help keep a smile on your face, or work as a distraction from a boring schedule, or allow you to check up on things and people with the click of a button!
With all that being said, I think it is clear that the negative far outweighs the positive, but, being a hypocrite of sorts, I am going to keep my Facebook alive for now so that I can share my blog posts with people. This is my major benefit from Facebook- I get to know that my writing is actually being read and hear people’s feedback on my thoughts and concerns and feelings. Facebook has multiple personalities, and each person should decide to use or not to use Facebook based on what it is to them- beneficial or a hindrance? Which one is Facebook to you?
Thanks always for reading, catch you guys soon. I have a laundry list of things to write about.