The sadness behind Facebook

Over the last couple of days there has been a lot of reports about "Facebook Depression". For those who have not been listening, there has been studies that show Facebook use can lead to depression as people are either watching other peoples lives and think how boring theirs is or simply because they are slumping when they don't get enough likes on a post. Well there is really no surprises there. I know I have been seeing this trend for a long time and have written about it before. It's obviously not limited to Facebook and is a general view on social media. People I know like to tell me how many likes they have had on a post but rarely mention the ones that don't get a lot of likes. 

To some degree it's compounded by the fact that narcissism is growing at epidemic proportions but to lay blame it's a bit like having the chicken or the egg discussion. I can see that sites like FB will have problems in the future as I am starting to see people of all ages either leaving FB and other social media apps. Unfortunately there are a lot of people who are and have become addicted to the validation and attention they get through this medium and of course it's dangerous. But unfortunately if there is no self awareness within people it will continue to grow. 

The danger for FB and other social media sites is what this can mean for them in the future. We all know that companies like FB are not altruistic and are in the business for money. It's a commercial enterprise. They may have started with the best of intentions but the reality is that they want to make money. This is why FB and others are always trying to make more and more information available and to reinvent themselves because in the end their value is quite often calculated in part on their membership.  

We have all heard about people who have killed others using FB to hunt, people committing suicide because of the depression that was brought on by FB or just the escalation of bullying. Unless these sites start making fundamental changes and introducing much more obvious support functions they are heading towards future lawsuits by families and others. They won't be able to hide behind the excuses of public forums forever. They have a corporate responsibility to start taking action after all their product use is resulting in these things and I can't see that they will always be able to get away with it unless they dramatically increase the support to their users. Algorithms already track peoples moods and will only get more precise so these social media companies will be liable because they have the ability to do so much more positive work. 

Only time will tell but I can see a time coming where online social media companies will be held to account. I'm not saying individuals shouldn't take responsibility, just that not everyone is capable of recognising those danger signs and at some level these websites will be held to account.   

Is Social Media an Addiction

Increasingly we are witnessing a large amount of research that points to the addictive nature of social media. Now of course this makes sense but it's not all bad news. 

There is an increasing number of young people leaving social media. It appears that when asked these people say that they either found it stressing them out or that they found themselves neglecting the real world and those they care about in real life. This doesn't surprise me as whether we like to admit it or not younger people are more likely to recognise these signs and to do something about it. 

A study I was reading stated that of course social media can be addictive like anything else in life can. Just because you are not an incessant poster doesn't mean you are not addicted. Some signs to look out for are being anxious when you haven't been on in a while, the need to "just check" your Facebook when you should be focussed on something else, the need to look at every alert or notification as soon as they appear, responding or checking your phone during a meal. These are only a few. It also discussed those who claim that that being on social media relaxes them.  This is highly unlikely as sites such as FB have been proven to cause stress through the shear volume of information. It gave the example that if you asked a drug addict or alcoholic why they drink, they will say it helps them relax or escape. Sounds familiar doesn't it. 

That doesn't mean that it's all bad it just means that you need to teach yourself how to control it. It is really entertainment, so treat it as such. If something or someone really needs you they will ring, put your phone where you can't see it at night and put it on Do Not Disturb, as many phones will allow phone calls in from people you have placed on your Favourites list. Make sure you are not looking at your phone every time you get a notification or alert. So put your phone or tablet away and concentrate on connecting to those you love and those who truly value you in real life. 

Remember what is important and what is truly urgent. Give yourself time to reply to messages but allocate a time or times each day to do this. People need to learn that you don't always have your phone next to you and that you will get back to them when you choose and not instantly. Otherwise it will become expected. 

Facebook - Real Name Policy

There seems to be a huge amount of publicity around the real name policy with FB. 

I have been reading up on this and it doesn't matter which side of the argument you sit on there are some compelling stances. The picture attached shows some of the arguments against the policy. 

I am going to take a different view and say 'I don't care'. I know this is probably an unpopular view but in the end it's a free site that people use. If you don't like the policy switch off. There is a growing amount of evidence that FB is being used less anyway as people are looking to other quick and easy streams such as Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter anyway. 

If you have a professional persona then you can always use 'Pages' to promote yourself. If you have been harassed, stalked etc then maybe it's time to switch off FB. If you are desperate to use FB because the world will end if you don't then simply utilise the privacy settings. In fact you can completely hide your FB profile from the world if you so wish. This way you can just add the people you want to add to stay in touch. Otherwise there are other more private platforms out there you can find to communicate. 

If you are after anonymity than FB or any form of posting on the web is crazy. After all these years we should have learned that privacy ultimately doesn't exist online. Maybe it is time to reassess priorities and look more closely at what is important in life.  

Those that have given up Facebook

I recently saw an article about people who have stopped using Facebook. I am not entirely there yet but am definitely on that path as many others are. One of the things I noticed was that every point raised, which incidentally came from a different person rang very true to me and I wanted to share some of it with you.

Before I do I would like to say think about why you use social media. The instant reaction you may give is to stay in touch with people but a lot of those that gave me that response eventually conceded they wanted attention or to show others they have a life. Now I’m not saying social media is all bad. I use it myself. However I think it’s more important to make sure it’s not a substitute for real life and definitely not a means to get attention. 

 If you would like to read the full story, you can do so HERE. But here are 10 reason’s why those interviewed “Don’t regret quitting Facebook”. These are not the entire responses just parts. 

1.     To be more productive.

"If one were to add up the vast amount of time I've generally pissed away on the site, we'd easily see that I could've written a book, started a business, or done any number of things that resulted in producing something meaningful. Instead, it's all been one giant attempt to incite thumbs up from people I mostly don't see in real life while putting dollars in the pocket of an already outstandingly rich dude," she wrote.

2. To spend time with real friends

"Most of my Facebook friends aren't (actually friends). They're not enemies. It's not that I wish them ill, but for the majority of them, there's a reason we don't associate other than on Facebook. For most, it's not because of a geographic disparity or because they don't have an email address or phone number - it's because we're simply not actual … friends," he wrote. 

3. To prioritise

"At the end of the day, it comes down to this for me: Am I spending all the time I should be spending on my most important relationships?” 

4. To enjoy the present

"But it's what I've actually enjoyed about being off of Facebook that has surprised me most. I spend less time on my computer without Facebook's source of infinite content," 

"During real life experiences, what is or isn't worth sharing on Facebook no longer lingers in the back of my mind, so I spend more time simply enjoying the present.  

5. To reclaim privacy

"Ultimately, Facebook is changing the human race. People think, speak and live in status updates. We have become short spurts of witty commentary. It's becoming increasingly difficult to truly connect with a person, rather than just their online character. We are all becoming narcissists," 

6. To avoid exploitation

"Facebook has never been merely a social platform. Rather, it exploits our social interactions the way a Tupperware party does," 

"Facebook does not exist to help us make friends, but to turn our network of connections, brand preferences and activities over time - our "social graphs" -- into money for others. 

7. To do something interesting

Lucy Kippist says Facebook was making her bored and judgmental.

"With the benefit of a couple of weeks off Facebook I started to realise that just like anything addictive - after a few days without it, you don't really miss it that much," 

"That said life without Facebook has been pretty good for me. I have found myself emailing people more often and have even picked up the phone for a chat. Before I decided to quit, I would have just sent a Facebook message -or been content to scroll through that person's status update to feel caught up. 

8. To connect the old-fashioned way

He's Just Not That Into You star Justin Long just isn't that into Facebook, 

"I tried to use Facebook at one point for a couple months to keep in touch, but I realised there's like a thing about just friendship in general. There's a reason why you don't keep in touch, "he said.

"I have a couple friends from high school that I still call them on the phone, which is really old fashioned and weird.” 

9. To free yourself from technology

After quitting Facebook Duke University Buddhist chaplain Sumi Loundon Kim also quit texting, mobile email, chat, and neurotically clicking over to the Gmail inbox.

"The first few hours after closing my Facebook page were mind-bending. My husband went onto his account to see if any trace of Sumi Loundon Kim remained. Nothing. For a few minutes, I felt like I no longer existed. It was freaky and liberating at the same time," 

"It felt so good, in fact, that a few days later I disabled Google chat in my Gmail account because my eyes would constantly flicker over to the box to see who was online. I noticed how often I checked email on my cell, so I removed that function. A month later, I changed the texting aspect of my mobile-phone plan and now only use it for immediate, necessary transactions.

"As I'm letting go of the alternate reality of the online world, I find myself much more attuned to actual reality. I am more interested in the people right in front of me because I am not half-attending to the virtual people online.” 

10. To live your own life

Monique Minahan says ignorance is bliss

"Really. That's what I've learned since limiting my personal social media," she wrote.

"Biggest reason for the change: I was wasting a lot of time

Digital Dating

A friend recently asked me why they couldn't get a boyfriend. Now this person is about the sweetest most wonderful person I know and really deserves to meet someone so I thought I’d do my best to help. When I asked how he hopes to meet someone he said well primarily he meets people through online dating or social media. I thought to myself, ok, that’s fine because the reality of this day and age is that it a legitimate means. 

Now with only the knowledge of his social media it was pretty obvious to me why he was having trouble. So my response was short and sweet to the original question. I started by making the statement “Well that would be because of your Facebook and Twitter accounts”. I just got this blank look which I kinda knew I would. I followed on and said if I didn’t know you but was on one of your social media sites I wouldn’t come near you. The person you portray on social media isn’t the real you in any way shape or form and if you hope to meet someone that way you need to be more of yourself. 

The problem with his social media is two fold. Firstly he comes across as someone who as an extremely active social life which isn’t the truth and secondly the type of person he wants to meet isn’t going to be interested in someone who comes across as self absorbed, which he does on the sites. 

Now I know that he is nothing like this and really is just lonely but because of his interactions online and the fact that he is extremely attractive he doesn’t have a chance to find someone he feels compatible with. So it raises a lot of questions around our personas online. Now most people are not the same IRL as they are online. We know that most people feel more comfortable online so they really create another personality, whether it be on purpose or simply because the gap between the screen and real life gives us a lot of courage. However if more and more technology is how we are meeting new people, that is simply not going to work, because once the interactions spill over into the real world, it will all fall apart. 

So for the future what does this mean? Does it mean we will see more and more dating disasters or does it mean that over time the gap between the real you and the digital you may shrink because people will start to realise they need to show their true selves throughout both mediums. 

I don’t know the answers, but the guy I was talking to has actually started being himself more online and is already starting to see a better match of people interacting with him. Maybe there will eventually be a happy outcome to his search.