There is no denying Facebook is currently on top of the social media scene. From an exclusive school-based social network in 2004, it has risen to become available worldwide to all people from all walks of life and all backgrounds. It now has over a billion members.
Of that billion, an estimated 618 million check their Facebook page at least once a day. Some check twice, others thrice, and still others multiple times. For them the communication platform has become an obsession. It is now an addiction to browse, to constantly update their page with the latest in the news, their lives, their loves.
Is such an addiction healthy? The health problems are not the focus of this article, but the social problems that may arise from it are.
So what social problems may actually arise out of social networking?
• Reduces our ability to communicate. But no! You say Facebook is all about communication! Well yes, but it’s about online communication, not actual personal communication. Sure you can express yourself well enough when you write posts, but how good are you at actually meeting people and talking to them outside the familiarity of your office or bedroom?
• Makes us obsessive about one-upping others. You open a friend’s page, see his pictures and go “I can top that!” and you do by posting a better, more awesome image. You open another friend’s page and she has a great story about what happened last weekend, but you feel you have a better one so you write it. Then you see a status that is deeper than yours and you just have to have one that’s even more meaningful. Before you know it you can’t stop changing everything because you feel your Facebook page has to be better than everyone else’s.
• Gives us inferiority. This is a direct result of being one-upped. You open someone else’s page and see that he or she has been to more exotic places than you have been, done things more interesting than you’ve done or have more stuff than you do. Wouldn’t you feel just the littlest bit jealous? Unsatisfied? Even depressed?
• Forces us to be someone we are not. Usually done by others who feel they have been one-upped. Some will start to fabricate stories about the places they have been, the people they know, even their educational background.
• Makes us think too highly of ourselves. This goes for those who have one-upped others. Doesn’t it feel good that you have better photos, a better status message and more interesting stories than the others? Yes, it feels good. And so you bask in this cloud of euphoric self-praise… until you see that someone else has one-upped you again and the vicious cycle goes on and on.
• Makes us ‘friend’ collectors. So, you have 3,000 Facebook friends? How many of them are your actual friends outside the social network? What is your actual relationship with them in real life?
• Loss of privacy. Some people feel the need to announce what they are about to do, what they are doing and what they just did. Not everyone needs to know that. By putting your entire routine under public scrutiny you may actually be setting yourself up for trouble, like calling in sick only to post a picture of yourself headbanging at a rock concert, or sharing sensitive, private or embarrassing information that might eventually be used against you.
We’re not saying you should stop using Facebook. There’s a lot of benefits to being able to reach a lot of friends and relatives quickly and there’s fun in making new friends and unparalleled joy in reconnecting with old ones you gave up hope of ever finding. There’s also a certain satisfaction in posting your achievements in an online platform for others to see.
But like in life, everything should be taken in moderation. It’s when anything is taken to the extreme that it usually becomes an ugly thing.
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