As a Reformed Christian, I believe everything is redeemable. But I’m starting to wonder about social media. Facebook, in particular, depresses me. Or is it just me?
With more than 2 billion users worldwide, what could possibly be wrong with Facebook, the free social media service invented to bring us closer to each other? Quite a bit, actually. We’re letting it change us and how we relate to each other.
You know that Facebook is about making money, right? It does so by delivering content—and ads—tailored specifically for you so you can safely wander all day in your own universe of like-minded people.
Research indicates that 15.4 percent of American Facebook users said they “greatly” or “somewhat” dislike using the product. And more than 10 percent of respondents described Facebook’s effect on society as “very negative.”
Even the folks at Facebook have gone public with their misgivings. They found when people spend a lot of time passively consuming information—reading but not interacting with people—they report feeling worse afterward.
You know that feeling. The one you get when your friend displays pictures of his fabulous vacation—a vacation you know you’ll never take. Multiply that feeling times a thousand as you scroll through happy people winning races, losing weight, building amazing storage solutions, and eating fabulous breakfasts.
Researchers call this “negative social comparison”—our habit of comparing ourselves to other people and wanting more.
What’s a person to do? Abstaining from Facebook is one option, but perhaps not very realistic if it’s your go-to place for sharing news with family and friends. But here are some tips for managing your use of social media:
- If you’re worried that your use of Facebook (or online gaming or porn or shopping) has reached addiction levels, find something better to do. Get professional help.
- Unfollow people you wouldn’t normally choose to go to lunch with.
- Follow people and organizations who help you learn something new.
- Combat the divisive nature of social media by adding your own original thoughts and ideas, written constructively. Leave room for further discussion.
Engage in thoughtful two-way conversation after thinking about your response offline for a bit.