Facebook (or you can insert the name of basically any social media in its place) is one of those things that everyone else got before I did. My mom didn’t find it to be that necessary, and she didn’t love the idea of me sharing myself with the world before a certain age. Of course I found this so unfair, and when I finally did join, I immediately started adding people, uploading photos, and posting statuses that I thought were incredibly witty in order to catch up with my peers. I kept it up for about 7 years. It’s definitely addictive. I mean, who doesn’t love the rush of seeing the little notifications from likes and comments on something they posted? I know I do.
Before I launch into my tirade, I would like to note that I do enjoy Facebook, I use it regularly, and I find it very useful for keeping up with people and sharing things like photos and videos that I’ve made. But there came a point when I realized that
A. I couldn’t remember at least a quarter of the people who were on my newsfeed as I scrolled down and
B. Said scrolling was often done quite mindlessly with no real point or aim.
I’ve written about Facebook before and since then have been trying to be more aware of the effect of social media on my life.
With that being said, here are 5 things that I am trying to pay attention to in regards to this platform.
Facebook completely changes relationships.
Remember how it used to be that if you wanted to stay friends with someone you had to work for it? Now there’s no need because there’s a little image that says “friends” and you can just leave it at that.
There’s no need to engage deeply with others. We can post a status about something going on in our lives and then let the likes roll in. True, there are people who post really kind, thoughtful comments on others’ statuses. But I know that frequently I was guilty of posting generic responses to things and they made it seem like I was invested with the minimal amount of work.
Here is a great TED Talk on vulnerability and having deeper interactions with others by Brene Brown. I highly recommend it.
I want to be more thoughtful in how I interact with others both on and off the internet.
Facebook decreases productivity.
Do I even need to expand on this? How many times do we purposefully procrastinate or accidentally get distracted on Facebook or other social media?
When I sat down and actually reminded myself of fun things that I actually want to do or like doing (even more than Facebook. Crazy right?) the list is actually kind of long… practice music… learning new skills related to media.. studying Japanese… writing blog entries… just to name a few.
I’m actually a little ashamed of how many times I’ve chosen Facebook over something I wanted to do more because it was easier or more convenient at the time.
It’s amazing how we have the ability, time and time again, to choose things that are mediocre over things that are best, the things that we won’t remember tomorrow for the things that bring us true joy and fulfillment.
To combat this I downloaded an extension browser called WasteNoTime that blocks chosen sites after a certain amount of time and deleted the Facebook apps off my phone and iPad so I wouldn’t constantly see it and check it. It actually made a difference.
Facebook removes privacy.
This one is kind of scary. Anything that we do has the potential to end up on Facebook. There are a few statuses that I wish I could go back and un-post. The privacy settings are there for a reason, but my guess is that they are the most underused feature on the site. I don’t have anything to hide, but I don’t want having no privacy at all to become the norm. If others take for granted that they get to know everything about my life, what happens when I want to keep something for just myself or a few people?
Of course we all have the right to post whatever we want to and be as public as we want, but I’ve been challenged lately to think about why I am as public or private as I am with different things instead of thoughtlessly posting for the sake of it.
Facebook removes inhibitions and filters.
This ties in to the last point. With the click of a button, we can share exactly how we’re feeling at any moment. We don’t take time to think about what we post, we just do it based on what we feel is important at the moment. The problem is that what is important at the moment may not be so important later.
Unfortunately we have created a culture of overshare. I say this as a person who was a repeat offender. There was no thought behind my posts, just random things that I thought were little golden nuggets that everyone should know. When I posted everything I thought, it became easier for others to block me out, and when something really important happened, they were more likely to scroll past than take time to read.
Fortunately I’ve learned a little more discretion since then and try to actually think a little about what I post before I post it. You’re welcome everyone else.
Facebook encourages us to create a false persona.
As I have mentioned before, we often just see the sides of people they want us to see on Facebook. This pressures us to curate ourselves. We craft our profiles so that people see us with idyllic lives that they should envy. We build up walls so that others can only see what we want. This circles back to the idea of vulnerability. We can’t live in community the way we are built to if all people see of us is a Starbucks selfie and some sunset shots.
I have to ask myself, “Why are you posting this? Is this an honest picture of you?”
This video hit me hard when I saw it.
I don’t think Facebook is inherently bad. It has potential to go both ways. So why not invest in making it a positive tool that creates rich community where we can be more honest, less cringey, and better friends?