Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Is Facebook Making Us Depressed?

Zuckerbergggg *shakes fist*

I'm a 3rd year student, so naturally my Facebook feed is full of old school friends, uni friends, friends of uni friends, people who I've only met once and barely spoken to, and the odd random person who I keep forgetting to delete but constantly posts YouTube videos of a cat riding a tortoise. (That one's a keeper.)

Scrolling through my newsfeed I realise that I currently know more about many of the people I shared a classroom with, than I ever did when we were actually at school together. I know how the guy-who-I-sat-next-to-in-science's recent relationship ended, and how his year's study in Germany was 'amazing'. I know about the girl-who-me-and-my-friends-silently-hated's gap year in Australia, and what she had for lunch today, and how many hours she spent in the library last night. At the click of a button I can scroll through hundreds of personal photos of someone who I barely spoke to yet know intimate details about. The only thing we had in common was sharing air space in an overcrowded classroom, and perhaps a ruler may have swapped hands now and again.

Besides the issue of voyeurism or 'Facebook stalking' there's also the issue of competition and comparison. Someone is always skinnier, prettier, or more successful than you. It begins to feel as if you're stuck in some sort of school reunion purgatory, constantly being reminded of your short comings since leaving school. No longer do we have to wait until we're 40 to feel as if our peers have overtaken us, thanks to Facebook we're instantly updated on the internship, the award, the engagement, and the marathon running. It's easy to think that everyone else is having much more success than you, and that they're somehow 'winning' in life with constant updates on every new development. Never before have we been able to scrutinize our own lives in such detail.

So I deleted them. Well, I tried to. I got down to about 257 before it got too hard. Would I secretly miss checking up on that girl who went to Durham, but who I surpassed at English A-level? Would I feel a gap in my day when I didn't spend a good hour clicking through all of philosophy-girl's holiday photos? What if they achieved something amazing and I didn't know about it, so I couldn't question every decision I'd ever made after school and wonder 'what exactly am I doing with my life'? Perhaps I could do without them after all...

So off they went. I sorted the wheat from the chaff. Would I stop and talk to this person if I bumped into them on the street? Would we have a decent in-depth conversation? The answer being 'no' for more than half of them, off they went, and I watched as my number of friends slowly declined.

But then came the re-adding. Friend requests popped up from people who I'd deleted. THEY KNEW. But why was my primary school best friend trying to add me again? She'd never spoken to me in about 5 years, nor had she make any contact online, yet she felt the need to know about all of my goings on like a silent watcher from afar. This was getting a bit weird. It was almost as if she'd gone around collecting people from her past like tokens. Not to talk to, but just to have there to look at. Kind of similar to what I was doing really...

Conclusion: Facebook is evil and people from your past use it spy on you.

Or perhaps it's better to think of it like this: people don't share everything on Facebook even though it may seem like it. (Twitter on the other hand...) Apart from the odd person who isn't afraid to share every raw and intense detail of a break-up, people only tend to post things that they're proud of or are happy about. It's only when you talk to people in person that you realise that what you see online is only half the story. Like how the person who went on the gap year spent quite a lot of the time feeling isolated and alone, and the girl who looks like she's having the best uni experience ever also has the worst housemates ever. We like to present ourselves to the world as having it all figured out, when really that isn't the case at all. (Well, at least I hope it isn't..?)

5 comments:

  1. I totally agree with you! I am considering deleting my Facebook account cos I just use it to waste time finding out about other people's lives - and I wasn't even great friends with them in the first place!

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  2. Interesting post, especially following A Thrifty Mrs' one a few days ago. I go through a love/hate thing with Facebook, ultimately most people treat it as a mini blog and choose to present only the good things in their lives, but then there's always a few who like to air dirty laundry, put up passive/aggressive digs at ex-boyfriends or friends they've rowed with, and then it takes on a Jeremy Kyle air. I don't work at the moment, so it takes the place of 'office banter' for me, but that's not to say I don't get sick of the 'what I had for dinner' updates from mums I only know from the school gates but felt I had to accept as friends!

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  3. Facebook could be make us depression that is true..i am experienced with that..but there is also point of benefit from it..

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  4. LOVE this em!! So amazingly true, I have deleting spree's often and adore it when they don't notice muhaha. It is so true though, for a long time I mainly used it to see if I was doing better than the girl who bullied me. GREAT post xxx

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  5. This is such a good post and so true! I decided to have a facebook clear out the other day and couldn't believe how many people I didn't even know :S x

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