It’s the week after Glastonbury and your newsfeed is going crazy with photos and statuses – “OMG just had the BEST WEEK EVER at Glasto BEST TIME OF MY LIFE #lovelife #YOLO #soznotsoz #hadtobethere” etc. You scroll through the carefully edited album, slowly resenting yourself for getting sucked into the endless vortex of comments and likes. Suddenly an hour has passed and all you’ve achieved is finishing the Galaxy and ignoring your housemates to the point of rudeness (except they’re all doing it too). I don’t know if this scenario is familiar to anyone else? Ok, just me then. #awks
We live in an age of Facebragging – where every holiday, festival, night out, event, family occasion; even our dinners are documented for all of the online people in our lives to bear witness.
It’s undeniable that social media has a huge impact on mental health. New studies are constantly telling us that high usage can shorten our attention span, induce stress and fatigue, suppress emotions, disconnect us from reality, cause a decline in our intellect and ironically, make us less sociable. Facebook is even toying with our emotions by controlling what types of posts we see in our feeds – downright dangerous if you’re prone to a moany status or two!
People can easily become addicted to the validation that they receive online – that feelgood buzz of popularity you don’t get anywhere else. After all, it’s not like you get as much social interaction in the offline world. Imagine if all the people you see day to day were constantly shouting ‘like!’ to each other…!
Addiction expert David Smallwood says in his book Who Says I’m an Addictthat social media essentially allows us to present ourselves as mini-celebrities, controlling how we want the world to see us. I couldn’t agree more, and this so often suppresses what’s really going on behind the screen.
However much we Facebrag to maintain our public image, social media is something we are all connected to and taking part in, whether you’re an over-sharer or a silent stalker.
I have a lot of friends on Facebook (often myself included!) who, perhaps out of fear of judgement from others or being seen to ‘show off’ go on lengthy quiet streaks. One of my colleagues termed this a ‘ghost profile’, where you never show up in other people’s feeds but are lurking in the background reading / stalking everyone else’s updates on a daily basis.
When you think about it, this is sort of creepy. Isn’t it weird to know everything about the super-confident girl you went to school with but nothing about the best friend you recently lost touch with? Or the cousin you only see at Christmas?
I get that it’s uncomfortable to share your voice on such a public platform sometimes. You don’t want to be the Facebragger, or the Selfie Queen, or any other silly stereotype that might come back to haunt you. I guess all we can do is be as authentic and genuine as possible. My main tip – don’t care so much about other people’s online lives!! Real life wins every time.
Phew, well that was lengthy! Now for a Facebook break….