Reason #3: Facebook.
Let me first start off this post by explaining awesome Facebook is – I mean it’s great: it gives me access to games, to friends, to a million pictures of my cousin’s cat – what more could I possibly ask for?
Now you might be thinking: “damn… browsing through a million photos of cats must take a while… and given the title of this post, Angie’s probably just going to tell us that she’s struggling with her studies because she spends too much time on Facebook…”
Well think again. The fact of the matter is, I don’t spend much time on Facebook – yet I still get no work done because of Facebook. So despite Facebook’s unrivaled awesomeness, we’re currently in a bit of a love-hate relationship.
You see, Facebook offers many things: you can play games, you can post pictures, check-in at the bar with your buddies, rant about doing a certain blogging assignment in your status update, and share every perfect detail (we tend to leave out the less perfect details, of course) of your life – Facebook can give you a taste of the celebrity, red-carpet treatment.
Facebook can put you in the spotlight.
… Just like it can for anybody else. And well… let’s just say that not all of us are happy with just having our own spotlight. Some of us want to be the only ones with spotlights.
And voilà. Facebook Depression.
Facebook Depression, as explained by Grace Chou (one of two co-authors of a study on Facebook depression), occurs when seeing other people live a good life, makes you feel like your life isn’t good enough. In particular, this occurs when:
1. Viewing other people’s Facebook statuses/pictures gives you the impression that they are constantly living happier lives than you are (since they are unlikely to post unhappy photos of themselves) (Chou & Edge, 2012).
2. A lack of Facebook activity (i.e. lack of friend requests, notifications, likes, messages and so forth), or being shunned by your peers online, makes you feel as though you are lacking social connectedness (i.e. makes you feel like you don’t belong) (Pappas, 2012).
3. You feel the need to stay online, and you start losing real-world connections (Hughes, 2012).
4. Comparing yourself to others in terms of achievements/appearance/etc., makes you feel less capable, less attractive, or less confident in general (Pappas, 2012).
Unfortunately, research shows that this ridiculous first-world problem becomes more prominent as one spends more time on Facebook and/or gains more Facebook friends – as this increases their chances of being exposed to happy statuses/pictures, thereby making them more likely to feel worse about themselves (Chou & Edge, 2012; Pappas, 2012).
But you see, my problem isn’t simply a matter of me staying online, feeling like I don’t belong, or getting upset when I see pictures of others being happy/having loads of fun. My problem is with #4 – the comparison.
I’m the type that likes to compare. And after some comparing, I’m the type that starts taking things to the next level…
I’m the type that starts getting competitive.
Oh, you’re going to a resort with your friends? What a coincidence – me too! And I’ve got plans with my friends tomorrow… and the day after… and the day after that too. I’ve got plans every day. My life is, hands down, much more spectacular than yours. I’m way more socially connected than you are.
And there you have it. My drive to be better and live a more spectacular life than others has got me feeling the need to go out on a daily basis, even if I have no particular reason to be out. I’ll try to see my friends every day – even if it means we’re only sitting in someone’s living room together and doing our own thing, on our own laptops. (Ironically, even as I typed this post, I wound up making dinner plans with some friends, and heading out for several hours, before finally taking my laptop to my friend’s place to finish this post in her living room). And when I do see my friends, I’ll take every last opportunity to check-in with them, wherever we are, just to prove that I’ve actually got people in my life. Though who it is exactly that I’m proving this to, I’m not sure.
Now thanks to this Facebook-driven obsession for going out everyday, I get no work done. My to-do-list grows on a daily basis, and my list of completed tasks is next to non-existent.
Is this immature of me? Hell yes, it is. But that doesn’t stop me. Nor does it stop anyone else. In fact, thousands, if not millions, of people, obsessively post about their lives on Facebook on a daily basis. And I’m quite certain that very few of us do this for the sake of keeping a daily journal for ourselves. (Why would you post things publicly if you don’t want anyone else to see it?)
Most of us use Facebook for the attention. Because deep down (whether you want to admit it or not), we’re all just attention-hogs.
Which is exactly what makes (and keeps) Facebook so popular. It’s officially the era of the self-absorbed – who’s got time for school when there are pictures of my breakfast to be posted?
Mark Zuckerberg, you are an evil genius.
Chou, G. & Edge, N. (2012). They are happier and having better lives than I am. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. 15(2):117-121. http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/cyber.2011.0324
Hughes, J.E. (2012). 5 signs that Facebook makes you depressed. Phoenix Forward: Student Life – University of Phoenix. http://www.phoenix.edu/forward/student-life/2012/05/5-signs-that-facebook-makes-you-depressed.html
Pappas, S. (2012). Facebook with care: social networking site can hurt self-esteem. Live Science. http://www.livescience.com/18324-facebook-depression-social-comparison.html.