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The Truth about Facebook: Is Social Media Ruining Your Life?
Most of us can't imagine our lives without Facebook. I know because I used to fall into that category. I created a Facebook profile in 2009 because I was over Myspace and most of my friends seemed to be getting one so I figured why not? Yes, I came late to the game but I made it nonetheless. My addiction to Facebook was a slow and steady process. It's not like one day I just decided I couldn't live without it or anything. In fact, for the first few years of my being a Facebook member I logged on maybe once or twice a day. I didn't have a smartphone yet so the only time I really logged on was from my laptop when I was at home, which wasn't much to be honest. Still, when I did log on it was fun looking at my friends' profiles and keeping in touch with them to wish them a Happy Birthday or congratulate them on graduating from college.
It wasn't like I had to log on or the world would end or anything. Frankly, days could go by and I wouldn't even log on and was fine with it. If I wanted to talk to a friend I would just call them or text them to hang out. It's not like Facebook was the only way to keep in touch. Way before social media ever became the cultural norm, people would simply talk to other people in normal and organic ways such as in person or picking up the phone and calling them. It really wasn't a hard concept. Yes, Facebook made it easier to share news to everyone all at once but is that really a good idea in the first place?
My first few years on Facebook, I didn't really post any significant statuses. I'm a private person by nature so it wasn't a surprise to anyone. I would mostly just post my favorite quotes or maybe if I went shopping I would mention that. I really never felt the need to post what I had for lunch or the deepest feelings of my inner psyche. This was a public forum after all, and I didn't feel like sharing everything about myself even if the only people who could see it were my friends and some distant acquaintances. I never understood why some people choose to post all the details of their lives on Facebook, especially if they had like 1,000 friends or their profile was public and anyone on the internet could see it.
I have always wondered what was up with people needing to share their lives with everyone on Facebook? Was it to validate themselves through the likes and comments they received? Did their experiences not mean anything unless other people knew about them? Does it feel good when other people care enough about your life to like your photos and comment on your statuses? Sure, it feels good when my friends like the photos I post but if I didn't have that validation it's not like the world would stop turning and just end. I'm sure I could still find a way to go on with my life without having the validation that comes from posting about it.
After a few years of only occasional Facebook use, I started becoming a regular user because I had a smartphone and could check my account on the go. Pretty soon, checking Facebook became part of my regular morning routine; I would wake up, check Facebook on my phone, and then get ready for my day. Somehow not checking my account seemed wrong and like something was missing from my life. I would also check my Facebook account throughout the day to read what my friends were posting.
I also got into the habit of updating my status when I was hanging out with friends to let the world of social media know who I was with and where I was because it was that important. If I was out at the bars with my besties I had to let the world of Facebook know it was going on. If was I was out to eat I had to post about where and how the food was. And of course if I was having the time of my life at a rock concert with my friend best I would definitely post about it so the people of Facebook would be excited with me...and maybe a little jealous too. But wait, there was so much more that my Facebook posts consisted of: there was movies I watched, music I listened to, stores I shopped at, and even vacations I went on. I was fully sharing my life with people that I thought were my friends, or at least mostly people that were my friends mixed in with some acquaintances and maybe some strangers whose friend requests I had approved for some stupid reason. I have to admit, life was pretty good at this point. The more likes and comments I got on my Facebook profile, the happier I became. The more friend requests I got the more it felt like I had a lot of friends who wanted to keep up with my life and share in my memories. What could possibly go wrong?
As time passed, the excitement I felt about Facebook seemed to fade away. I wasn't posting as much stuff because there wasn't a lot going on in my life at the time or I just wanted to be private about it and not share with the world that I had my heartbroken or that college was pretty hard and not leaving a lot of time to just spend countless hours on Facebook reading about other people's lives. Other things started to irritate me about Facebook too. Suddenly, it seemed like every girl was getting engaged, having a baby, or getting married. While I was happy for my close friends that got to experience these milestones, I was not exactly excited when they happened to people who were my friends on Facebook but in reality were just those annoying people I went to high school with who always seemed to be one step ahead of you all the time. Was I jealous? Maybe a little, but the thing that really hurt me was comparing myself to them and comparing my life to theirs.
I remember the time I had just had my heart broken by someone I really cared about and was feeling pretty bummed about my life and I logged on to Facebook and saw this girl I went to high school with who just got engaged. She was a cheerleader in high school and was one of those super optimistic people that were happy about everything all the time. Okay, cool, I thought to myself she's engaged. Not really a big deal since we weren't exactly close friends. Then, a few months later, she's pregnant. Wow that was fast but again that's cool for her. Nope that's not all, a few months later, she graduates from college. Well by this time I'm thinking well this has been quite a year for her, what else could possibly happen? A few months pass by and now she's getting married. Well, we've come full circle now I thought to myself. I guess she's married now and has a child and college education. Those are all good accomplishments and something to be proud of. But it wasn't the end of it though. Next, she brought a house with her husband, and she guess what?! She's pregnant with baby number 2! By this time I couldn't help but compare my life to hers. After all, we had grown up in the same town, went to the same school, and heck she was even a year younger then me. Needless to say, I wasn't happy where my life was at that point and having to read about hers only made me feel more sad about mine. I wouldn't exactly call it jealous, I would simply say I was feeling pretty left out like why weren't these good things happening to me?
You might find yourself in the same situation as me. Maybe you aren't where you thought you would be at your age. All your friends are getting married and having babies and sharing all about it on Facebook while you are simply sitting on the sidelines and wondering why you are left out of the game. It's bad enough that these things aren't happening to you, but then you have to watch them happen to other people with photographic evidence to look at on social media. I think that's one of the many downsides of Facebook. It makes people feel bad about their own lives because they're constantly having to compare them to other people's. It's super hard not to compare because we're all humans and we all want to move ahead in our lives and have good things happen to us.
Everyone wants to fall in love with their soulmate and live happily ever after. Some people even want to have 2.5 children and raise a family in a house with a white picket fence in the suburbs. That's the dream right? But what happens when that dream doesn't happen to you but it happens to everyone else? You get really sad and depressed and stop appreciating what you already have because you're too busy thinking about what you don't have. This is a vicious cycle that never ends unless you end it. The truth is, nobody's life is as good as they make it sound on Facebook. Most people don't write about their troubles but choose to focus on the good things happening in their lives. So while someone's life may seem perfect on Facebook, you don't really know what happened to them between one happy photo and another. Life is not always what it seems to be on social media.
I decided to make a rational decision and limit my time on Facebook. Obviously, if something isn't making you happy, you have to make changes in your life to fix it. The source of my unhappiness was logging on to Facebook and spending hours everyday reading about other people's lives when I could be spending that time living my own. Life means so much more than the comments and likes you receive on a status update or photo. You mean so much more than how many birthday wishes you get on your special day. Cameron Diaz says it best when she states: "I think social media is a crazy-ass experiment on society, The way people use it to get validation from a bunch of strangers is dangerous. What's the point?" Diaz herself quit social media in 2014 and couldn't be happier about it which is a nice change from all the other social media obsessed celebrities.
It all comes down to this: some people live their lives and others simply post about it. Some people validate their experience by how many likes and comments they get while others are confident enough to know who they truly are and don't need any external validation. When it comes down to it, who are we kidding? Facebook is all about bragging about what you have and where you went and with whom. If you want to keep in touch with your friends you simply pick up the phone and call or text them. You could even go to their house if you're really close.
You want to share your baby pictures with your family? Well it's not hard to email it to them you know. I really wouldn't feel comfortable sharing my children's pictures on social media anyways. There are a lot of psychos and child molesters out there who prey on such weaknesses. There was even an instance in the news not too long ago of a woman who accepted a Facebook request from a stranger because his profile photo was "cute." She had a 5 year old daughter who was starting kindergarten so she took a photo of her on her first day, which is typical of parents these days, and posted it on Facebook. Next, she updated her status to say it was her daughter's first day of kindergarten and wrote the name of the child's school in the post as well. The mother didn't think much of it and dropped her daughter off at the school and drove away. Well, that was the last time she ever saw her daughter. The cute stranger that she accepted on Facebook, who used a male model's photo and not his own, actually kidnapped her daughter and sold her into sex slavery in a foreign country. This all happened because this woman accepted someone she didn't know as a Facebook friend because he was cute and shared personal information and photos about her precious child. Remember that people aren't who they seem on the internet and it is a place where people can pretend to be someone else and use other people's photos. Catfish anyone? A catfish is someone who assumes a false identity on the internet in order to manipulate people.
Another thing to keep in mind is to never share your location on Facebook. Why would you let 1,500 of your friends on social media know exactly where you are at any given time? Maybe some of those people don't have your best interests at heart and could potentially be dangerous or a stalker. If you don't personally know all your Facebook friends you definitely shouldn't post personal information about yourself. Also, don't post photos of the outside of your house on Facebook. Seriously, people do this! I see it all the time on my account. People buy houses and then they post photos of these houses on Facebook for all to see. The thing is, if you show a photo of the outside of your house on Facebook, you are pretty much giving everyone your home address. This is because any photo can be downloaded into google image search and it will give the person your address, simple as that! So unless you want to attract stalkers or have random people drive by your house at all hours, maybe don't post photos of the outside of your house on Facebook or any other social media.
It is a good rule to set your Facebook privacy so that only your friends can see your photos and status updates and not everyone else on the internet. This next one is pretty logical but it is also a good idea to only accept friend requests from people you actually know. This is a pretty big safety issue. You wouldn't invite a stranger into your home would you? So why would you accept them as a friend on Facebook and give them personal information such as your birthday, location, or place of employment? You just shouldn't do that.
It is now common practice for employers to check the social media accounts of people they want to hire. So if you have some questionable photos or statuses on Facebook, they could work against you and keep you from getting a job. What you might think of as fun, party photos could make you look like an alcoholic, and who wants to hire an alcoholic to a respectable job or any job position at all? No one I know.
When good things happen to you, make it a habit to only share it with those people who are the closest to you, because the whole world doesn't need to know every detail about your life. It's okay to keep some things private after all. Some things are sacred and precious like your relationship so maybe keep that one to yourself. You know what you two mean to each other and that's all that matters. Everyone else can keep their two cents to themselves. Like it has been said, the sign of a good relationship is no sign of it on Facebook. Not everyone has your best interests at heart and some people are straight up dangerous and want to hurt you so it's best to be safe.
What I learned from my experiences on Facebook is that the less time I spent on it the happier I became. It was freeing to not have to check it throughout the day to see how my day compared to everyone else's. I knew how I felt about my life and that was enough for me. It's pretty clever how they made it so you can never truly delete your Facebook account, you can only deactivate it. This means you can't ever truly be free from it forever because you will always end up coming back. At least you can take a break for awhile and live life without posting about it.
The truth is, we don't need Facebook to keep in touch with the people who matter the most in our lives. People have been keeping in touch way before Facebook came along. Facebook only seems to cause drama and sadness, especially for the younger generation. Now people worry about their significant other keeping in touch with their ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends. This wasn't an issue 20 years ago. Isn't technology supposed to make our lives easier and not more complicated? Social media is supposed to connect people, yet it usually makes people feel more alone and depressed than ever before. We were happy and satisfied with our lives before we started comparing them to other people's. We didn't post photos for attention because we already got all the attention we needed from the important people in our lives who actually mattered and not some strangers we don't even know.
Looking for true happiness on Facebook is pointless because you'll never find it there. Happiness is found when we value and believe in ourselves without any external validation. Happiness is living our lives to the fullest and experiencing all that we can in the real world and not in a virtual one. Happiness is finding our soulmate who completes us and brings out the best in us; never having the need to share it with the world because it's just too special. When it comes to Facebook, it's okay to take the easy way out and disconnect. After all, you can still play Candy Crush on your iPhone without ever logging in.
Which social media platform is your favorite?
© 2015 GreenEyes1607