October 31, 2013

Simpler Times

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Where it's okay to publicly brag about things like: "I'm going through my mac-n-cheese obsession phase at age 25 and that's okay." I remember it like it was yesterday. There was a time when every significant (and insignificant) moment was thought of in terms of a Facebook status update. While partaking in an outrageous adventure like surfing or skydiving, of course social media was considered: How can I best display this so that others will see just how awesome this is and act accordingly with jealousy?

How can I best display this so that others will see this and proceed to feel horrible about themselves? Because if they don't, that means (by default) I'm the one who's feeling all sorts of horrible. No, this isn't some sort of jealous outrage. I have proof: “We were surprised by how many people have a negative experience from Facebook with envy leaving them feeling lonely, frustrated or angry,” says Hanna Krasnova, the author of a recent Facebook study (from the Institute of Information Systems at Berlin’s Humboldt University).

Well, I'm not surprised. An article in Time magazine notes that Facebook frustration comes from (1) users comparing themselves to their peers and (2) users being dissatisfied due to a "lack of attention," i.e. less likes, comments, and general feedback compared to friends (Why Facebook Makes You Feel Bad About Yourself).

If a status update isn't entertaining or informative, it's just plan annoying, says the blog wait but why. The motivation for posting such annoying status updates is more than likely a combination of image crafting, narcissism, jealousy, attention cravings, and/or loneliness.

The author of the blog presents 7 kinds of annoying Facebook status updates. I'll provide some examples, but I won't spoil the fun. Read 7 Ways to Be Insufferable on Facebook for yourself.

Annoying updates include brags (out in the open, undercover, and relationship brags), cliffhangers (leaves you wanting more, i.e. begs for attention), literal updates (I'm going to eat my ice cream and then take a picture of it and show you), public private messages that do not concern you, acceptance speeches, obvious opinions (that disaster was a disaster), and steps one should take toward enlightenment. These updates only benefit the author and rarely, if ever, those around her.

It's too bad that there's no "dislike" option on Facebook, but at least I can hide things from my news feed that I'd rather not see. Example? The never-ending hotsy totsy photos of Ms. Perfect in her scandalous outfits downing beers at the pub. Overly deep updates that make me question if I'm as close to God. Awesome things that I wasn't invited to. Sigh. These things don't leave me feeling encouraged, excited, and happy. Rather, I'm left to feel unhappy jealous, and...Not. Good. Enough.

Why keep such friends? Well maybe one day they'll see how awesome I really am. Or maybe they are friends in real life that you're trying real hard not to be jealous of...and Facebook's not helping.

Sure, Facebook's been known to increase one's self esteem, but only because we've become very good at making ourselves believe that we're more special than we actually are (I'm Special & I Want My Unicorn). And it's been said that Facebook is good for those introverted people because then they don't have to look anyone in the eye. But Cain will tell you that introvert doesn't equal shy (Quiet).

Facebook's good for entertainment, promoting yourself, and "maintaining" friendships with those you'll never see again. Perhaps there are other benefits to Facebook such as landing a job and maintaining a connection with your Australian friends - more power to you if you find it to be a useful tool. That said, "Facebook users spend an average of more than 15 hours a month on the social networking site" (Business News Daily). Can all of this time really be put to good use...while using Facebook?

Comparing. Envy. Dissatisfaction. Self-promotion. If I can conclude that perhaps my day-to-day life could be a little lighter without Facebook, why then is it so hard to get rid of it?

When I consider taking the plunge, I find reasons not to. I won't be able to share my blog (that an average of two people "like"). But what about when I get a new job or something, won't I want to tell everyone about it...so they can see how awesome I've become? So I can feel accepted, loved, worth something. After all, it's far more fun to be the envied than the envier.

Needless to say, these motives are yuck.

And besides, there might be 7 people that actually care about me on Facebook. And those 7 people can certainly care about me outside of Facebook.

It's times like these when I wish Simpler Times wasn't a beer that I had once when I young, stupid, and looking for love. All this thinking makes me long for a simpler time, one where I'm not constantly concerned with the approval of others. I can't help but think of New Zealand. No phone. No internet. Freedom.

So, farewell Facebook. So long. I'm ready for simpler times. I think that's why I love fall so much. Everything's just a bit simpler. Sweaters are finally okay. And everything seems to slow down a bit. It's a time when it's okay to be inside. Snuggle up and read a book. And even if it's because they're bitter, people tend to be more quiet in the cold. Fall brings with it a sense of a simpler time. And this fall, I plan to embrace that.

Ruckert's Law: There is nothing so small that it can't be blown out of proportion.