- Internet & the Web
Why Facebook Lies and Other Dangers of Social Networking
There are a lot of things in this world that, if you become addicted to them, can slowly ruin your life. Drugs, fatty foods, World of Warcraft, etc. Some of them we already know about because they’ve been hammered into our brains since childhood (don’t do drugs) but as new technologies and concepts emerge, we haven’t yet discovered what is detrimental to us in the technical age. Granted, things like Facebook and World of Warcraft can be used in moderate amounts without any adverse effect on the user, but there are always those situations where it gets taken out of hand. For that reason I’ve compiled this list of the dangers of Facebook; things you should take into consideration if you want to use it or are already using a social networking website. These are things I have personally experienced and also seen other people experience.
This is one of the most toxic aspects of Facebook. Since the content posted on someone’s page is completely under their control you tend to get two detrimental kinds of posters; the people who lead perfect lives and make you depressed because yours isn’t as good, or the people who over dramatize every tiny aspect of their life to the point that they post vague status updates, fishing for sympathy, worry and attention.
Lets start with the first one; the person with the perfect life. These people have a tendency to make everything seem much better than it was. The party they threw was the most fun anyone has ever had. Their wedding was so perfect and beautiful that yours is crap by comparison and their friends are always there for them and helpful in so many ways. This is conveyed through status updates, photos and wall-to-wall posts. Every thing they do contributes to this perfect life and, if you’re the kind of person who compares your life to others, will make you seem horribly inadequate by comparison. The important thing to remember in this scenario is that FACEBOOK LIES. These are the kind of people that don’t post everything that went wrong at their party or wedding. And doesn’t post the little things their friends do that annoy them. I’m not saying one should post all of that stuff, but if you ever think that someone on facebook has the perfect life, just remember that all the things going wrong for them are not laid out for the world to see. Which, in my opinion, is the better alternative to the Drama Queen. So when you see someone who seemingly has a perfect life, stop and think about your own profile. If someone didn’t know you personally and they were to look at your photos and status updates, how would they perceive you? And, if you’re the kind of person who does post their problems on Facebook, imagine how people would see you if you didn’t post those problems, but still had them. The image you would create would be one of perfection, even though it wasn’t the truth. So don’t compare your life to the lives of others based on Facebook (you shouldn’t do it in general). You’ll find you always come up short because FACEBOOK LIES.
The second one I mentioned above, which will be referred to as the Drama Queen even though men are guilty of it as well, is the person who has everything that goes wrong with their life. They’ll post status updates like “John Smith is sad about the terrible thing that happened this afternoon” which prompts their friends to rush in and ask what went wrong. They want attention and they’ll get it any way they can. The actual event in their life could range from the severity of a car crash to the insignificance of mail not arriving on time. Everything is the end of the world and these people never let you forget about it. Again this is an indication that FACEBOOK LIES. These people are giving you a perception of them that they have created, as opposed to forming your own opinion based on meeting them and speaking to them. Therefore they have the power to make themselves look more important or more significant than they need to be.
There are certainly other kinds of facebook users, other than those above, but these types can be the most dangerous if you can’t regulate your use of facebook.
Farmville. I could just say that one word and thousands of people will instantly know what I’m talking about. However I’m going to explain myself anyway. People often give a lot of flack to games like World of Warcraft or Everquest because the game is addicting and sucks your time away. However in recent years this type of gaming has wormed its way into the quick little flash games online. It’s not like Tetris or Bejeweled where you can play for a few minutes and stop. These games are fully blown text adventures that require you to come back every day in order to keep playing. These games are so addicting that people will create multiple facebook accounts just so they have enough friends to get certain items. I’m guilty of it even though I know it is completely absurd. The point where you know you have a problem is when you say you’re going to log in real quick to check your farm (or whatever) and before you know it, it’s 3:00 in the morning. Real problems crop up when you’re trying to maintain several of these games at the same time. They aren’t worth it.
Too Easy to Argue
Like I said above, Facebook gives people the power to portray themselves however they want. So, for example, someone who is uninformed and normally non-confrontational, can post a highly controversial status and get people all riled up. Politics is a major contributor of this, but so are opinions of family members and posts that show favoritism to friends. For example, using the politics subject, someone could post a status like this:
“John Smith thinks Apple is ruining the country”
>“What’s wrong with Apple? I think it’s a good food president.”
“Orange is way better. Apple is a nazi food.”
>“That doesn’t even make sense. Apple has given the foods more rights.”
“Whatever, we’ll just have to agree to disagree.”
You could be really informed on any given subject and put forth a great argument, but here is a cardinal rule about facebook; there is no winning. Because despite how many sources you cite and how many points you make, that person’s uninformed opinion isn’t going to be changed. And there is a good chance their friends have the same uninformed opinion so they’re going to back that person up, making you look like the loser. This is why all the polls on Facebook are horribly inaccurate and laughable with their obvious bias towards whoever created the poll. You can’t win against these people and if you try, it’s just going to make them happy that they made you angry.
All the People You Hate Will Friend Request You
Remember that friend you had in high school that stabbed you in the back? Surprise, you got a friend request! How about that ex-girlfriend/boyfriend who made you feel like crap? Friend request! Hey, it’s that guy that beat me up in elementary school. FRIEND REQUEST!?!?!?!?
There really isn’t any logic to friend requests on facebook. After you’ve got your family on their and your close friends, everything else is just weird and awkward. So if you don’t want to reconnect with certain people you might be better off using a fake name or avoiding facebook altogether. It’s true that you can always deny a friend request but it can become a sticky situation when you see that person, or someone who knows that person, in real life. You can only use the excuse “oh, I didn’t get that request” so many times.
Friend Request Obligations
Branching off of the section above, you also get friend request obligations. This usually comes in the form of extended family. Sure you have no idea who this is, but you know that they’re related to you somehow. And since you friend requested their cousin, you have to friend request them too, right? This gets out of hand quickly until you have way too many friends and you’re getting weird game requests and invites to join groups you’ve never heard of. This just adds to the clutter and the sense of awkwardness. Your Facebook profile goes from a personal outlet to a public service job. You have to wear a kind of face and be polite and watch what you say. This is especially true in cases where parents allow their children, some as young as six years old, to have and operate facebook profiles. I think that’s the opposite of a stress-reliever. And if Facebook is causing you stress, you probably should get off the computer.
The Illusion that You’re Getting Something Done
This problem happens to me a lot with video games. I unlock something cool or earn a hard to find weapon and I get a sense of pride that I’ve done something. When in reality, all I’ve done is pushed buttons. While there are some people who play the game who might be impressed with this feat, anyone who doesn’t is going to roll their eyes at my supposedly great achievement. Facebook is no different. You could spend hours toiling away at your farm, or getting ahead with all of your requests and messages. But by the end of it, what have you accomplished? Are you less stressed? Do you have a product to show for it? Is anyone going to care that this was accomplished a few hours later? Facebook needs constant attention every day, and keeping up with it isn’t an accomplishment, it’s a time sink.
I wrote an article about how to Cope Without World of Warcraft. In the case of Facebook, there are other things you can do without it. I’m sure you had hobbies before you found facebook and now might be a good time to start them up again. But like I said with the warcraft article; it isn’t the end of the world if you use it Facebook. You just need to remember that the site is flawed. It wants you to waste time on it so it’s already working against you when you log in. Know your enemy and you can use it to your advantage. It’s a good tool for contacting people quickly and playing games that are legitimately fun and not demanding on your schedule. Just remind yourself that you’re in control. Facebook will persist without you on it, so don’t feel like you have to keep up with it.