Is Facebook Lowering your Self Esteem?

Facebook is the scourge of the internet. It’s killing privacy!

With my cursor hovering over the delete my account button, I break into a sweat and close the internet before I can pull the trigger.  Much like trying to leave a bad relationship, I can’t seem to break it off.

What is the hold Facebook has over me.

The reality is just like the Truman Show, upon hitting delete the Facebook world will buzz on without me and with newfound freedom and privacy I will move on with my life as well.

In 2004 when Facebook first debuted, like the honeymoon phase of a new relationship, I wanted to spend every minute together; it was exciting.  Wow Mark Zuckerman, you really shook up the internet with this one.

I enjoyed seeing old faces from high school and other long lost friends that had passed through my life.  It was satisfying to see where the world had taken them.  But 10 years later, the honeymoon phase is definitely over and what’s left is a broken, dysfunctional and stressful relationship.

Since that time Facebook has proven to be one of the biggest time wasters, addictions and distractions from the real world. 

On average we spend upwards of 7 hours per month on Facebook alone (Nielsen Media Research).  We have evolved from meaningful conversations to short tidbits of frequent communication.  The effects on our own attention spans and that of our upcoming youth is devastating.

I recently asked a friend of mine why she left Facebook.  She admitted experiencing feelings of envy.  I’ve thought a lot about this statement since that day, Facebook is supposed to immerse us in an encouraging social network; its supposed to make us feel connected, supported and recognized.  But the reality is after pursuing friends vacations, life successes, and perfect families it can trigger loneliness, jealousy and disappointment.

To be honest after logging out of Facebook 7 times out of 10 I feel worse about my life.  Not that my life is bad, but it doesn’t seem to be as fairy-tale perfect as the thousands of pictures and status updates of all my so-called “friends”.

While I may get some flack for this statement, I’m going to put it out there, ladies I don’t want to see your professionally done, very personal, pregnancy pictures.  I knew you 15 years ago in high school and even then we never spoke, I don’t need or want to see your pregnant, naked belly.  Maybe save those ones for a private email to your close friends?

While we could argue my knee jerk reaction is actually jealousy because I do not have children yet, and to some degree this may be true, but seriously some things are just private and do not need to be shared with the cyber world.  Isn’t anything sacred anymore?

In the same breath, I’m guilty as well, I suppose no one really wants to see pictures of my two adorable dogs which plaster my Facebook wall.  (Even though I can’t fathom why, they are very cute).  Why are we all saying “Look at me, look at me.”  What is it with our desperate cries for attention, are we really that starved and lonely?

Isn’t it unnatural to feel like you know everything about someone’s life (including what they had for breakfast) and you’ve never really had a one on one conversation?

So then I ponder the idea of deleting everyone I am not really friends with.  Yet somewhere inside of me I feel bad for the loss of our fictitious Facebook friendship, like I might hurt their feelings.  What I’d be left with is all my friends who I actually talk with and visit, I wouldn’t communicate with them on Facebook anyways.  I’m confused, so then what’s the point?

While Facebook allows for ease in organizing events, connecting with long lost Aunt Peggy, daily inspirational quotes and promoting businesses its also a breeding ground for gossip and bullying.  It causes rifts in relationships, creates meaningless communication and promotes animosity.  Do the cons of Facebook outweight the pro’s?

So what’s my Facebook verdict?   Well I would say most of the issues are my own delusions.  If I didn’t compare myself to others, their photo’s and comments wouldn’t bother me.  If I wasn’t being nosy, I would waste so much time.  If I wasn’t drawn into gossiping I wouldn’t creep around on pages of people I didn’t care about.

The reality is that to reach states of mind where you are free from these delusions is a rare and long path.  So my suggestion to myself and anyone else who experiences any form of stress from Facebook, take a break!  Bask in the newfound privacy and enjoy the instant release of stress and removal from constant bombardment.

Stop comparing yourself to others and discover you again.

With your precious newfound free time, read a book, go see a movie, focus on family and real friendships.  Stroke some things off the bucket list.  Be sure you are connecting in the real world.  After a break, maybe you will discover you can have a healthy relationship with Facebook and enjoy the benefits it does serve.

But whatever you decide don’t take it so seriously.  Recognize the true face of Facebook, it’s a facade.  It’s not real.


Epilogue and testimonial from a prior facebook user:  Six months after deleting Facebook I discovered the only thing I actually missed was a random invite, from someone I really didn’t know, to a party I likely would have never attended.

8 thoughts on “Is Facebook Lowering your Self Esteem?

  1. LaVagabonde

    I deleted (not only deactivated) my account a year ago. I had a twinge of panic for the first couple of days, but it passed and I feel great being away from it. It was the privacy issues that I couldn’t tolerate.

    1. Tina Williamson Post author

      The full delete, that was brave 🙂 I am positive after a few days I will feel great as well, I’m looking forward to focusing on my own life and not where I think my life should be based on everyone else’s. The privacy is a huge issue, friends could wish you well on your vacation, meaning no harm but then everyone knows your house is empty. I think its issues such as this people don’t always consider.

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  4. Editor-in-Chief: Carrie B

    This is something I think about a lot. I aim to get a large amount of meaningful writing done, and often find myself switching back and forth to Facebook. I agree with many of the things you said except the pregnancy photos. I don’t see them as any less appropriate than many images people share regularly. Let me say that I had never planned on having children, but when I was pregnant with my son, trying to see the beauty in my rapidly-changing, strange body helped to an extent. I have never been, or will ever be one of those women who freaks out at a pregnant belly and respect that many people do not appreciate the attention, but with all of the pressure these days about “staying fit during pregnancy” etc, congrats to those ladies baring the bulge. Glad to hear that shedding Facebook was a positive experience. One day I will try, one day…

    1. Tina Williamson Post author

      I completely agree with you, I will sit down with an intention to do other things and find I’ve wasted an entire hour doing nothing!
      I can see your point of view regarding the pregnancy photo’s, for some people sharing that experience is no different than me sharing way too many pictures of my dogs. Some people will relate and appreciate the support and connection its creating and some people will find it annoying. Its interesting that everyone’s experience of Facebook is so very different, especially the differences in experience between men and women!
      Thanks for sharing!

      1. Editor-in-Chief: Carrie B

        Thank you for the reply. I think Facebook will continue to be a very interesting subject for sociologists!
        And my view is probably skewed too, because I don’t think you can have “too many” pictures of any animal. 😉

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