Facebook: A Necessary Evil

It’s ironic that this is my first post: I’m using a social network to create this blog. And I know what you’re thinking: another post about how social media is the devil, how our (Millennial) generation is too obsessed with smartphones, Snapchat, Instagram…

Not quite.

Social media is not inherently negative like this animation by Steve Cutts portrays (it’s pretty far fetched!) Facebook and Twitter developed as result of a need, specifically, the need to interact with the people around us. These networks give us a digital footprint, an identity on the internet. In a seemingly infinite network of information, we are immortalized in it’s 0s and 1s. A century from now, over a billion people’s information will still be in some database somewhere. But they’ll be dead. (I’m focusing on Facebook here, as it’s the most widely used, but this applies to most social networks.)

It’s comforting to see that your life can be compartmentalized and asserted to those around you, without the time consuming task of getting to know people one on one (I say this jokingly). Through Facebook, we are connected to more people than we realistically need to be.

Don’t get me wrong, though. Facebook has its uses. It can be pretty efficient with dispersing invitations to events, having groups for various purposes, and keeping up with family and family you don’t see often. For the most part, the functions Facebook puts out carry purpose. (Except for the poking function. Can someone explain that to me?)

However, Facebook not is a reflection of your life. If anything, your Facebook page is a reflection of how you want to be seen. A brand, if you will. In most cases, social networks are more about your relationship to yourself than to other people. I’m pretty sure you spend more time on your own timeline than you do on anyone elses. (Unless you’re stalking your exes.)

Now, there isn’t anything wrong with that by itself. It’s a form of self-expression in the technological age, and I’m all for it.

Our internet today allows us to share our representations of ourselves, and it does have a concrete effect on our identities. For example, I use my Instagram to post art, graffiti, and things I find pretty. Because of this process, I feel more inclined to notice the world around me, and if I find something I want to share with other people, I snap a picture.

But in the end, it’s more about my desire to share than anything else. It is a representation of what and who I find beautiful, and I couldn’t care less about who likes it and who doesn’t.

The problem arises when we begin to associate our self worth with the amount of likes on our profile picture, the number of friends on our timeline, and the amount of notifications we get in a day. To some, the little red bubbles are a pleasant reminder of ones worth: how many people wished you happy birthday? Keeping up with the site requires time, and the funny thing about people is that we tend to post the same things over and over. (Mostly cute animals, memes, and political opinions, from my experience.)

In a world where time seems limitless, we forget that it is our most limited resource. How can you use social media productively?

A simple reminder: In the end, in life, how you see yourself is more important than how others see you. People’s opinions change all the time, and you shouldn’t change along with them. Do not go with the crowd simply because it is the easy thing to do.

My point? You should use Facebook; it shouldn’t use you. If the self-expression becomes stressful, take a break. If social media makes you dislike yourself, it is not productive.

I get it, though: it’s pretty difficult to leave. But if Facebook presents itself as self-hatred, don’t fall into it’s trap. It’s not worth it. I periodically deactivate and come back as needed. Sometimes it helps to define a time that you will allow yourself to check notifications, gradually spacing them out. For example, checking once a day during your lunch break at first, then checking every other day.

tl;dr

  1. Your timeline is a carefully crafted representation of what you want other people to see.
  2. You decide how to use Facebook, it doesn’t decide how to use you.
  3. Unless you have a reason to be on Facebook, such as contacting international loved ones, limit its use.
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