OyChicago blog

Facebook—friend or foe?

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05/18/2011

I love Facebook. But I also kind of hate it. One of my “friends” on Facebook—a girl from my college sorority who I have not seen or spoke to for over six years—posted something this week that really resonated with me and really got me thinking about whether Facebook is something positive or negative in my life and the lives of others:

“Sometimes I look at my FB newsfeed and think, 'gee, look at all these people I used to be friends with in real life.' What the hell happened?”

I joined the Facebook bandwagon when it was still www.thefacebook.com and hadn’t reached all of the universities across America, much less my great aunt Susan or my 16-year-old cousin Samantha. It’s hard to think back to the time before Facebook News Feed, when news actually arrived via telephone or in person, and being “friends” meant that you actually spent quality time with someone on a semi-regular basis.

There are certainly things I love about Facebook—reading articles and blog posts shared by friends that I would not have seen otherwise, watching YouTube videos that would not have otherwise made it onto my radar, and reconnecting with old friends who live in remote places. I like being able to keep tabs on old acquaintances and have birthday reminders for those who I would otherwise forget. And of course it was amazing to see just how similar William and Catherine’s wedding clothing was to Cinderella’s!

But for all the joy that cyber-stalking on Facebook provides, I’m noticing more and more that having access to all of this information can sometimes have a negative effect, even for a relatively well adjusted and happy 26-year-old with fairly-decent self-esteem (if I do say so myself).

As most men and many women will admit, women (and I should note that I include myself in this gross generalization) can be a little bit…crazy. We are incredibly critical and judgmental, of ourselves and of others, and oftentimes we hold ourselves to impossibly high standards. For me and others I know, it seems that Facebook only amplifies our insecurities, giving us a whole new wealth of opportunities to feel bad about ourselves.

Examples abound. All of your friends seem to have that something (insert one: boyfriends, fiancés, husbands, pregnancies, children, vibrant social lives, tons of friends, great jobs, etc.) and your life pales in comparison. You notice that a friend is attending a birthday party of your mutual friend…and you’re not invited. An intentional exclusion or an accidental omission? Your friend posted pictures from last weekend’s event, and wow—how did no one tell you how incredibly fat you looked in that dress that you thought was fabulous? And how dare they tag you in such an awful photo!?

Most of us are able to handle this overload of information without too much stress, but more and more often, I’ve heard friends saying that they are no longer using the site. Some have gone so far as to deactivate their account.

What do you think? 

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