German researchers just discovered that 1 out of 3 people feel worse after visiting Facebook. Specifically, they feel lonely, dissatisfied, and envious. I could see this coming, couldn’t you? Now, I do have a Facebook page – actually two – one personal page and one to promote a family vacation property that users can “befriend” for discounts.
The research found that vacation photos were the biggest cause of resentment. People’s vacation photos – including my own (!)- should only be available upon request, in my opinion. But then perhaps that’s what my Facebook friends felt when I shared photos of my precious new baby grand nephew, Liam Kenneth, just two months old this week! or the holiday photo of my side of the family and our five squirmy dogs. We all have our weak points.
One of my favorite theories in graduate school was Festinger’s Theory of Social Comparison which basically says that we all feel better about our abilities when we compare ourselves to others. This helps us define ourselves; it reduces our uncertainties. And that is certainly one of the gifts of sites like Facebook – the gift of information giving, receiving, sharing, and comparing with the rest of the world – in particular those who are most like us.
To help us all reap the benefits of social media and avoid the rampant abuse of it, I suggest a SAFETY WARNING like this: CAUTION:may cause loneliness, jealousy, and general malaise if over-used! – followed by a 60 second required training program – NOT in how to operate the tools of TECHNOLOGY but in how to understand the results of SOCIAL COMPARISON.
So, for now, I will participate, but I must say I’m proud of my daughter, a very wise college student, who bucked the trend and put her page on “inactive” status – indefinitely.
As always your comments are encouraged and appreciated.