People have been leaving Facebook in droves over the past several months, and a Huffington post article released earlier this year listed 11 reasons you should quit Facebook in 2014. Though Facebook isn’t bad, and for many of us has allowed us to connect and re-connect with friends and family, the reasons are valid.
They range from the very true: “Facebook makes it impossible for you to stay ‘private”
…to the more humorous (yet also true): “Your parents (and even grandparents) are now watching your every mood…or they’re posting photos of you that you would never want anyone to see.”
But some of these reasons, like #6, show that time spent on Facebook could affect your outlook on life and consequently, your mental health:
6. Facebook makes you feel less positive about your life.
A recent study from Utah Valley University found that people who use Facebook all the time viewed their lives as more negatively. Of the 400 students questioned, “those who have used Facebook longer agreed more that others were happier, and agreed less that life is fair, and those spending more time on Facebook each week agreed more that others were happier and had better lives.”
A second study done by Timothy Wilson at the University of Virginia showed that the more time people spent browsing Facebook, as opposed to actively creating content and engaging with it, the more envious they felt.
In other words, the more time we spend Facebook “stalking”, the more likely we are to compare our lives to the lives of our friends. And unfortunately, our lives always seem to fall short. Why is that?
The researchers pointed out that people manipulate their images on social media to project whatever they wish, which often means a more superficial image, or just the best moments. And, no matter how well we do it, if everyone is putting out these superficial images, it is certain that many of our friends will appear to be in cooler places doing more exciting things, whether they are getting engaged or eating at that hip new organic restaurant downtown with their best friend.
A Tufts student said:
“I realized that with Facebook, I was always presented the shiny presentation of people’s lives as they wanted it to be presented. Despite my knowledge that those were not real representations of people, I would still find myself comparing myself to other people’s lives, and that’s a really horrible way to think about yourself. It’s a very quick road to unhappiness.”
So how can we avoid being slowly crushed under the weight of comparison? There seem to be two options:
- Leave Facebook completely – a road that many have chosen.
- Limit your time – If you’re like me and aren’t ready to take the plunge, consider limiting the amount of time you spend on Facebook, or maybe take a brief hiatus from the social networking site. A break may help you remember what things you enjoy doing, and restore a more positive outlook on life.
As singer/songwriter Ellie Holcomb said, “comparison is the thief of my joy.” Let’s not let Facebook encourage us to compare, and instead hold on to the joy we each have as unique individuals in our distinct situations doing worthwhile things – whether or not those things get shared on Facebook.