According to Nielsen Media Research, on average we spend upwards of 7 hours per month on Facebook.
With my cursor hovering over the delete my account button, I break into a sweat and close my browser before I can pull the trigger. Much like trying to leave a bad relationship, I can’t seem to break it off.
In 2004 when Facebook first debuted, like the honeymoon phase of a new relationship, I wanted to spend every minute together; it was exciting. I loved seeing old faces from high school and other long lost friends that had passed through my life. It was satisfying and warming to see where the world had scattered us all. But now, nearly 10 years later, the honeymoon phase is definitely over and what’s left is a dysfunctional and stressful relationship.
We all know social media can make us feel bad about ourselves. There are countless articles and even scientific studies proving that sites likes Facebook are both dangerous and beautiful, bordering on the edge of voyeuristic. We can creep the site to check the goings-on of people who we may not normally give two shakes about, but when confronted with an unexpected photo or update, it can strike a nerve, unleashing our inner stalker. Curious cruising or creeping becomes an unhealthy obsession and leaving us feeling less happy with our lives. The reason: Much of how we judge our success in life is based on how we stack up against our peers. The problem is that Facebook gives us a limited view of our friends’ lives, and that view tends to be unrealistically positive. The more friends you have, the more likely you are to spend your day enviously reading about someone’s paradise vacation, new girlfriend, or job promotion.
As if daily real-life hints, like your aunt reminding you that you’re past your biological peak or your ex-boyfriend inviting you to dinner with his new girlfriend, weren’t enough. Signing on to Facebook or checking your Instagram can really drive the point home that other people are better than you at, well, anything you can think of. The kid you used to babysit now owns a chain of pharmacies. Your college roommate who was playfully nicknamed “Slut-muffin” now has a charming ex-model husband and two gorgeous children. You didn’t compete in a marathon or hike up some elusive mountain, so you’re unable to post that the only marathon you’ve recently competed is two days of Homeland, while stuffing your face with merlot and cheese. Oh, and your ex just bought your dream house in your dream suburb, meanwhile you’re still stuck living with a roommate who is constantly late with their portion of rent.
Facebook is the perfect platform for people to create an idealized view of themselves. They control their image, and through Facebook make their lives look better than they actually are. This is why you should always view everything over social media sites with a grain of salt, and understand that it isn’t necessarily the whole story. Nobody lives a perfect life.
If deactivating your Facebook account isn’t an option, try unsubscribing from your most prolific braggarts and fine-tuning your news feed. You can choose to read all updates from a friend or downgrade to a smaller portion of their updates. Another option, cut ties with excess acquaintances to reduce your news feed updates to your real friends. This means your co-worker from five years ago, university roommate and overbearing ex can all get the axe. When you have a comfortable count, learning about the success of people you actually care about can make you happier.