Social Media: The Blessing and the Curse
Facebook, in addition to other social media sites, has become the meeting ground for friends, acquaintances, and co-workers to gather. Worldwide, 1.5 billion kids and adults, hang out on Facebook’s corner. It’s mindboggling!
There are many upsides to this digital den—keeping up with family pictures, news from friends and relatives, or sharing recent adventures. It’s a way of communicating life’s changes, big and little, with scores, or even hundreds of people, with one picture or message. I love to see new photographs of my grandnieces and nephews! Watching videos of their first steps was pretty cool too! It can also be a way, via Linked-in, of finding a job. It can make networking far easier than using the telephone or email.
Breezy news articles, interesting stories, or funny videos go viral. Social media enables these fun and informative tidbits to spread everywhere with a touch of a key.
But there is a dark side to this virtual street corner. Most individuals only share the good times. We see pictures of friends at their neighborhood bar. We read about awards, accomplishments, and joyful occasions. Everyone is smiling and having a good time. LOL.
Wow! Joe had 500 birthday messages from Facebook friends. Mary had 200 “likes” to her dinner out with her best friend. Bill had 75 comments on his post about his new position at Boeing. They must have a million friends.
Facebook friends don’t post bad news—my girlfriend broke up with me, my husband is having an affair, my teen is a drug addict, I got fired from my job, my company went bankrupt, or my kid is in jail. Joe doesn’t share that he has migraines and Mary doesn’t post pictures of herself under the covers at 2 p.m. in the afternoon. Who posts tear-stained selfies?
Social media can make us feel bad. What if my life isn’t so hot? What if I’m disconnected from my family? What if I’m alone and lonely? What if I only have 5 birthday greetings? What if only 3 people press “like” when I upload a picture of the big steak I had last night?
Some studies show that it’s “social comparison” that makes us feel flawed. All of us have the tendency to compare our lives with our peers. I look next door at my neighbor’s well-tended, beautiful garden and then gaze mournfully at my weed filled rag tag front yard. Yes, the grass is always greener down the street. But social media enables us, really entices us, to look at hundreds of next-door neighbors every day! And we only see what they want us to see. It can be overwhelming—and depressing.
These social media excursions are the ultimate time-suck too. How many Facebook posts have my friends shared in the last five minutes? We can find ourselves spending hours flipping through trivia. Let’s face it--very few events on a day-to-day basis are so interesting that they merit sharing them with our friends. Do I really care what my cousin had for dinner last night? Social media can becomes a garbage can filled with froth. It’s seductive. With our smartphones dialed in to Facebook, it’s a breeze to take a “selfie” and share it with our buds. And, I’m always smiling.
So, what can we do to avoid “Facebook funk”?
It’s not necessary to throw out the good with the bad. But it may be a wise idea to take a day off from surfing social media when you’re having a bad day. When you’re going through a rough patch, perhaps that’s not the time to pull up your Facebook page on your Ipad.
How about posting the truth? Maybe, in this digital age, honesty and authenticity will go viral. Wouldn’t that be interesting?