Facebook: the social media network everyone loves to hate. Whether it’s the privacy issues, the changing interfaces, it’s addictive nature or it’s ability to manipulate your emotions, there never seems to be a shortage of reasons to dislike the social media site. Try as we might though, we just can’t seem to break it’s hold over us. Did I mention that it’s addictive as hell? No matter how much we may insist that we dislike Facebook and don’t care about how many likes or comments we get, we can’t deny how much that little thumbs up sign effects our mood.
Like most people, I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. On the one hand I love the way it allows me to stay in touch with family and friends I would completely lose contact with without the social network but on the other hand, Facebook tends to bring out certain traits in people that really make me worry about the future of the human race as a whole. What kind of traits you ask? Well, to start with:
No matter how humble or how much of a I-don’t-care-what-people-think attitude we like to pretend we have, there is a little narcissist in us all and Facebook does a great job feeding and nurturing him. So where once the most we did was share pictures via email with a select number of family and friends, now it’s all about getting the most number of ‘likes’ on your daily selfie while insisting in the tagline that it’s a ‘bad pic you guys’.
Although it’s true that this selfie culture isn’t limited to Facebook, this is where it all began (and eventually spiralled out of control). Honestly people, there has to be a limit to how much and what you ‘share’ lest you fall into the second category in this list…
2) Over Sharing
In todays culture of sharing every little thing with the largest possible audience, it’s difficult to know where to draw the line. I mean, do people really need to know what you have for breakfast every single day? Or see a picture of your daily outfit? It can be argued that your personal Facebook page is just that: your personal page. You therefore have the right to post whatever you want and if people have an issue with it, well then no one’s forcing them to look at it, right? And that’s fine. The problem of course arises when you realise that what you post says a lot about you and like it or not, people who you want to make a good impression on (like a prospective boss or new in-laws) are going to look at your Facebook page and they are going to judge you based on it. So yes, I know that video of you dancing the polka on the hood of your car is totally hilarious and all, but it won’t really go down so well with the fortune 500 company you’re interviewing with next week.
3) No Pain, All The Gain
When sharing pictures, statuses or events with the 20 friends and family and the 567 random people we seem to have on our ‘friends list’, it’s only human to want to put your best foot forward, to want others to envy you a little. There’s nothing wrong of course in wanting to seem interesting/fun/cool/lovable to all and sundry but this desire to show off messes with our perception of reality. Life is all about how we want to be seen by others and how others actually see us and trying to get these two images to be as similar as possible. Pre-Facebook this meant actually putting in the effort to be charitable, smart, happy, good natured, or whatever else it is that you wanted to be seen as. Facebook (and other social media) on the other hand give us the ability to edit our public image without having to actually put in the effort to be the kind of person we want to appear to be. Want to be a morally upright person? Just share platitudes and morally sound quotes all day and there you are. Want to be health conscious? Post pictures of yourself working out all the time even if you only ever do it for 5 mins every other Tuesday. The problem with this scenario isn’t just the fakeness of our online persona, it’s the effect it has on others. When you’re down or feeling low, looking at all the happy people on Facebook with their apparently awesome lives doesn’t really help with your depression. Hell, looking at your own ‘perfect’ newsfeed when you’re down and realising how fake it is is depressing!
4) The Facebook Eye
The concept of the Facebook Eye is simple: in today’s world of perpetual online sharing, we tend to see the world through the lens of how it would appear on Facebook. So family vacations, lunch with friends or our children’s milestones are reduced to a post-able picture or a witty status update. We tend to get so lost in posting pictures, checking-in or updating our status that we forget to actually enjoy the moment we are in.
When was the last time we actually went on a vacation and enjoyed it without being glued to our smartphone 98% of the time because “oh my god I have to post that real quick”? So yes, maybe it’s time to put the smartphone/tablet down and actually look at the world, not through the lens of how many likes it’ll garner on Facebook but because of how lovely it is in and of itself. The moments worth living are short and fleeting, Facebook can wait.
What do you think? Is Facebook good or bad for us?