I took Facebook off of my phone a few weeks ago and not only do I not miss it, I feel so much better it’s gone. I have to wonder, does constantly checking in on Facebook make us depressed?
First let me say, I’m very grateful for the life I have here in NYC. But I’m definitely guilty of comparing myself, my place in life to others, especially those I know well. I’m sure we’ve all heard that the easiest way to make yourself feel terrible is to look for ways other people are “better” than you. There are ALWAYS people who are wealthier than you, more successful than you, in better shape, funnier, etc and at times a quick glance at Facebook can make it seem that everyone is out living a happier, more fulfilling life. In the old days you had to randomly bump into that friend from high school who seems to be doing very well, or hear about the “big successes,” through friends or family. Today it can seem everyone is living “better” than you while you scroll your iPhone in the bathroom, perhaps in the middle of a day where you feel especially unproductive or ineffective. You feel depressed. “I’m nowhere near where I should be,” you might say to yourself. Or “Why is everyone else happier than me?”
We’re far more likely to share our victories and excitements than our struggles, our pains, our down moments. As a result our Facebook streams tend to be filled with the good moments of others, and the more people we add to our stream the more it seems everyone else is attending a party we weren’t invited to. Couple that with the fact that we’re constantly checking Facebook on our phones throughout a normal day, and you have the recipe to make yourself feel like crap at lunch on a Wednesday. Or at least I know that to be true for me at times…and it turns out I’m not alone.
According to this recent post in Psychology Today, it seems others have felt this way:
- Over 33% of Facebook users report feeling unhappy during their visit (1).
- Envying Facebook “friends” is the major reason for the unhappiness (1).
- People who browse but do not actively communicate on Facebook are particularly vulnerable to feeling unhappy (1)(2).
- The longer the hours spent on Facebook, the higher the likelihood of believing others are happier (2).
- The more we amass Facebook “friends” we don’t know, the higher the likelihood of believing others are happier (2).
- The more we interact face to face with friends, the lower the likelihood of believing others are happier (2).
- Facebook comparison may be especially impactful for women (3)(4)(5)(6).
I don’t blame Facebook for the fact that at times I choose to process my friend feed this way. And there’s no doubt that I do get a lot of enjoyment out of using Facebook, but I now see that the constant checking is very bad for me. It is best as an active browsing experience on my computer instead of an impulse on my phone. I took Facebook off my phone a few weeks ago and I feel better.
(to steal from that Psychology Today article ending)
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” – Steve Jobs