You just went through a break-up with a significant other, bombed an exam or had a crummy day at work. Coming home and flipping open your laptop you automatically head to Facebook looking for a distraction; bad decision.
“Just landed an internship in NYC for this summer, can’t wait!”
“My boyfriend is amazing. I couldn’t be any happier!”
“Can’t wait for drinks with my girls tonight. Love them all!”
A stream of updates and photos of friends bombard you, and after a half an hour of scrolling through you feel even crappier then before you logged on. Why?
A recent study from Stanford University has proven that Facebook causes us to underestimate other people’s misery and overestimate their happiness, in result making us feel worse about ourselves. Feelings of loneliness, isolation and dissatisfaction have all been linked to using Facebook. As college students spend on average one and a half hours a day on Facebook, it’s no surprise that this brain drain could leave you feeling worse.
The study found that these effects are taking a toll on our mental health and that women are most susceptible to these negative effects. Another study at the University of Texas Austin found that men use the social network to share more news or current event related items, while women lean towards more personal developments.
This should be as no surprise, as just scrolling through your news feed you can find updates of friends’ accomplishments and their self-promotion through pictures and status updates. When you see the self-promotion of others, you can’t help but compare their “amazing” lives to your own, and more oft
en than not it leaves you feeling like your life just doesn’t add up and you’re missing out. This can be extremely damaging to your emotional health, especially when in a low moment.
Women already feel the pressure to succeed in all areas of our lives, and when comparing yourself to the accomplishments of others you may feel like quite frankly your life and success just doesn’t measure up. You don’t desire to just be happy, but happier than those around you.
The solution to this problem is not ridding yourself of Facebook completely, but rather not viewing your news feed as a competition. Don’t focus on who has the most friends, the most likes, or the most interesting news to share about their life. There’s always a certain few who are constantly using the site to brag, so simply defriend them or block them so you won’t be confronted daily with their updates.
Facebook definitely has its benefits and is a nice distraction for when you need a break from reality, but it’s important to resist getting sucked into hours on the site and looking at updates as a contest. If you start feeling crummy, logoff and go enjoy your non-cyberspace life.
–Ashleigh Mavros, Student Outreach Coordinator