Facebook announced earlier this year that it was seeing a decrease in the amount of website usage. For years, the website was growing because of all the positive traits it brings to our society. But after a while, we started to figure out the downsides of Facebook, and though it’s too early to say, perhaps its popularity has peaked.
Early this year, I made the decision to sign out of Facebook on my phone and on my computer. Other than occasionally needing to use it for work, I have avoided scrolling through my news feed for several months. I used to get on several times a day and browse here and there when I had some down time. I instinctively went to open it several times over the first couple of days, but it didn’t take long for me to not miss it.
Not only does less time on Facebook mean more time for me to pursue other things, but I also believe I’m in a better mood when I don’t use Facebook. It can be OK to use Facebook in moderation, but I’ve identified several ways in which it can trigger negative emotions in us.
1. It’s overstimulating to our senses.
When you log onto Facebook and scroll through your news feed, you immediately have dozens upon dozens of people trying to get your attention. Videos are playing. Pictures are all over. Messages and notifications are popping up. Friends’ statuses are yelling at you, trying to get likes and comments. And now that you can “react” to posts with likes, loves, laughing or sad faces, you have several emotions all confronting you at once. Scrolling through a news feed is like trying to watch all your TV channels at the same time.
2. You’re losing your alone time.
We all need alone time to center ourselves. When you’re on Facebook, you’re not really by yourself. Maybe there’s no one else physically in the room, but you’re still interacting with everyone you know (and some you don’t) all at once.
3. Other people are watching you.
By the same token, when you post or comment on others’ posts, everyone is watching you. Again, not physically, but they know what you’re doing. And it’s not just your friends, but also the friends of all your friends if you’re commenting on another’s status.
4. Other people are constantly rejecting you.
How many times have you posted a status and someone disagreed with you – perhaps harshly? Not only does that make us upset because they didn’t like our status, but also because we may regret even putting ourselves out there on the web for all to see. But think about this: Every time you post something and people scroll by without liking or commenting on the status, they are rejecting you. They don’t feel that your post was worth the time and energy it takes to respond. After all, why does anyone post on Facebook? It’s to get others’ attention! We want everyone we know to be aware that we’re at a party having a good time or to see our video of a cat climbing up a screen door because we are seeking their approval.
5. It’s easy to misinterpret what others are saying.
It’s difficult to not take things personally online when you only see a person’s words without seeing their expressions or emotions behind it. If someone replies to you online in a manner that is anything less than rainbows and sunshine, it becomes easy to misinterpret their tone. I’ve been on both sides of this many times.
6. It’s easy to become jealous about others’ lives.
While some people still air their dirty laundry on Facebook, for the most part, people post their best moments. It gives us a distorted view of others, leading us to believe their lives are better than they actually are. When you see these kinds of posts on Facebook, it may cause you to feel depressed, to take a situation you’re struggling with and make it worse. If you’re seeking more happiness, stop comparing your entire life to this narrow picture of others’ and get off Facebook. Let your life stand on its own merit.
Brian Johnston lives in St. Joseph with his wife and two children. You can find him on Facebook at facebook.com/brianjohnstonwriter.