Long before the Facebook experiment was let out of the bag, I began to realize that this form of social media was seriously effecting all of my relationships in a negative way. In light of the recent news of how Facebook has been feeding negative status updates to select groups of individuals to see how they would respond, I feel even better about the decisions I have made in regards to my interactions on this social media outlet.
I’m not a very tech savvy individual, and every single technological advance that comes along, takes me a while to get on board with. Facebook was certainly no exception to this rule. In fact, for a long time, I never wanted to have a Facebook account. My husband convinced me that I needed an account to connect better with teenagers. I think he was absolutely right, at the time, this was their main source of communication and ways of relating with each other.
The teenage crowd unabashedly shared every thought and feeling they ever had out in the public domain. In more ways than one, Facebook played instrumental and vital roles in the success of our ministry. I do not regret my decision for being on this social media platform.
Not only was this platform a great outlet for me to connect with my students, it was a wonderful tool for me to get back in touch with people that I knew from my hometown. There is a whole world of friends that I have access to because I am on this giant social network.
I’d unlock entire communities of people that I once lived near and spent hours catching up with old friends, family, and acquaintances. This seemed to be such a positive thing in my life while I sought to make connections and friendships in the town I was living.
Like many people, I became too busy to get on Facebook regularly. My writing load became intense, I was in the midst of homeschooling two children, and housework was piling up on me everywhere. In absence of reading everyone’s status updates and having brief chat conversations, I was beginning to feel very disconnected.
I was caught up in my own world of to-do lists and expectations. During the time that I was unintentionally detoxing from social media, I had no idea how beneficial it was for my attitude to no longer be reading statuses.
Then it Became Negative
One day, after several months of not being able to check out what was going on in everyone else’s lives, I had the chance to slow down and read updates for a while. I was absolutely shocked at how discontent I became while reading what was going on in everyone’s day.
You must know that I have over 500 friends, all of which I know in real life. When you have this number of friends, at any given time, 4 or 5 of them are bound to be on vacation somewhere exciting. At least 2 or 3 of them are doing something exceptionally fun and creative with their children. Swipe after swipe on my phone, I saw a never ending feed of people that were so much happier than me.
Never mind the hundreds of my friends that were going about their daily lives, just like I was doing. All I could think was, here I am, buried in work and chores, and all of my friends are happy and excited with life. That is when it hit me, that reading updates had a negative impact on my relationships.
All of these people that are my “friends” were making me so jealous with their lives. Events that I should have rejoiced in with these people I care about, actually made me feel discontent with my own life. When you are feeling dissatisfied, it affects all of your relationships with: spouse, children, friends, God, and anyone in your area of influence.
Now that the cat is out of the bag in regards to the Facebook experiment that was being done on 700,000 users, it is not wonder that this social media giant was wrecking me in more ways than one. I’m not sure if I was part of this experiment or not, but I know that many of my friends had to be.
I cannot tell you how many of the people I knew, that seemed perfectly happy, would post some of the most negative status updates. It was very disturbing to me to see these types of posts come from people that had never sounded like that in person. Seeing a mix of negative comments wedged in with cruises to the Bahamas and fun days at the beach, it is no wonder I was an emotional wreck from reading updates.
To read more about this controversial experiment, go here.
How I Handle Facebook Now
I’m not one of those individuals that is choosing to exit Facebook now that it is out in the open regarding their experiment. While I don’t agree with what they have done, this social media platform has been a huge help to me in the past, and will be in the future.
Now that I know the pitfalls that reading status updates can bring for me, I am much more guarded in my interactions. Whenever I am reading along and feel that the posts are making me discontent or jealous, I stop reading. Not only that, I limit myself to how much time I get on this outlet each day. I’m not in a position to abandon all of my interactions on Facebook, but I can certainly limit the exposure.
Probably the biggest change that I have made in regards to my interactions on this platform is limiting what I choose to post. It is so easy to make yourself look like something you are not, even it if it unintentional, on social media. If I have had a good day and want to share it with someone, I text or call a friend.
I don’t have to put it on an update that I took the kids to the park, that my best friends in the world came to see me, or I am headed out of town, or that I hate doing laundry. If I want to share my day with people, it needs to be with people that have a relationship with me outside of my status updates. While I know there is no way for me to eliminate jealousy others may feel about my internet life, I do what I can to not add to the misconceptions.
Figure Out How This Media is Affecting You
Now is the time for you to ask yourself how social media is affecting you and all of your relationships. Are you that person that spends hours on Pinterest just dreaming of a beautiful home or the ability to make fantastic crafts like all those other perfect people?
Do you feel like your life is unexciting compared to all of the fun things your friends are doing? If you aren’t sure how social media is affecting you, then it is a good idea to intentionally detox from it for a while. I don’t personally advocate making a huge status update on your media outlet of choice, that you are abandoning ship for a while. Instead, just quietly slink away for a bit.
You might not even notice the effect these platforms have on you until you get reconnected after several weeks of being away. I just encourage you to try it out for the sake of your relationships. When you get back on, then you will know exactly how to guard yourself against future pitfalls.