The problem with Facebook

I’ve lost count but I’m probably on about my fourth Facebook account now. Many reasons have made me want to delete it but it’s usually down to relationship breakups and not wanting to trawl through all the pictures we had took together which drags up the past and reminds me of the wonderful memories rather than the shitty ones which I needed to keep hold of at the time to ‘get over it’. I first found Facebook in 2004 but not many people I knew were using it then so I didn’t really investigate any further. It was all about Friends Reunited then! The social network that led to many school flings being rekindled and marriage breakups … remember that? 😉

Like a lot of people, Facebook has been a massive part of my life for 12 years now. I had another look in 2006 when I moved to Nottingham and I couldn’t believe how many friend requests I’d received. Most of them from people I went to school with. The names I recognised but hadn’t seen or heard from for years. I’d not seen most of these people for over 10 years. Since that day I’ve been checking my account most days like it’s one of the most important things in my life. Apart from the odd couple of weeks when I’ve had the willpower to delete my account (I always go back), I’ve checked my phone (or PC pre app creation!) every single morning. In fact, it’s the first thing I do when I wake up which is pretty ridiculous really. I know some of you are thinking exactly the same thing. It’s quite worrying.

So, the point I’m getting at is, if you’re not careful Facebook can have quite an impact on your mental heath. It definitely changed my thought process for a while without me even realising it, until recently. I’m still on there because it’s the only way I can keep in touch with some friends and family. Not all of us are signed up to every social networking platform out there. I actually find it attractive when someone doesn’t use social media. Sometimes I wish I was like that but it’s never going to happen. I like social media too much and it’s amazing if used in the right way, I just need to slow it down! Even Facebook’s former vice president for user growth, Chamath Palihapitiya, recently said “we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works,” and advised people to take a “hard break” from social media. Obviously Facebook isn’t all bad. It’s helped me keep in touch with people all over the country and some overseas. It’s also great for blogging and communities where people can reach out for help, but when you’re already feeling down it’s probably the worst place to go to get your social media fix. Facebook can exacerbate social envy, and can turn friendship into rivalry (I’ve seen it happen), create hostility and people end up holding grudges. The trouble starts when people use Facebook for their ‘highlight reels’ and all too often, we feel ourselves lacking by comparison. Obviously half the stuff on there is complete bullshit. Not many people are going to post the crappy parts of their life up there. Most of the time they just want to show you their latest purchase. How you process that information all depends on your mindset at the time.

I used to let all this stuff get to me and it created all sorts of negative feelings. I beat myself up about not being where I expected to be in life. I’d question why I wasn’t at that point in life with the nice big house, fancy car, 4 holidays a year and climbing the career ladder whilst watching by bank balance build. That’s how it all looked to me. What I wasn’t thinking was all those things don’t come without their problems.

My thought process is much different now. I look at people’s ‘highlight reels’ for what they are – sometimes lovely happy people enjoying life, sometimes a load of crap. Over the last few months I’ve been able to think a lot more positive and it’s helped me realise that those expectations I had weren’t really what I want. It’s what society says I should have and I was trying to live up to what society says you should be at 30, 35, etc. I’ve realised I don’t want the big house, fancy car and 4 holidays a year (I’ve actually had them all in a past relationship and was very unhappy a lot of the time). I don’t want the cost and hassle for a start! I’m very happy living in house shares because it gives me the freedom to do what I want when I want. I don’t need a fancy car, I just don’t. 4 holidays a year would be lovely though! Haha. I’m 40 next year and planning on hitting that milestone in style with lots of holidays!

I’m off to spend 7 hours on Facebook now …

Thanks for reading,

Claire

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