Is Facebook killing your self-esteem?

12 Jun

facebook sanityA lot of my friends and acquaintances seem to have left Facebook recently on mental health grounds. Apparently it’s the most liberating thing you can do in the 21st century.  Personally I like to believe I’m one of those more mature Facebook users who can separate weak-chat from chaff-chat, who uses the social network purely for life enhancing reasons, but  in truth I’m kidding myself.

For sure I love the banter, the sharing of funny stuff, moving stuff, crazy stuff. I love bonding over a cat leaping like superman out of an open window before falling to the ground like Wiley Coyote. I love the support I can show to other people going through difficult times. The understanding, the connection, the commeraderie.  However, the reality is I’m no more immune to that “other” stuff than they are.  The stuff that makes you feel bad about yourself, unfulfilled,  not quite good enough. The stuff that sees you compare yourself to other people over and over again.

I have an old friend on Facebook I haven’t seen for nearly 2 decades who’s become my “what if”  friend.  Single, living abroad with the body I once had (pre-kids), the career I lost,  the clothes, the social life.  I can’t help but compare and contrast and come up short.  In reality, this person  is probably looking through MY profile and crying over MY husband and MY kids.  Stupid irony.

Then there’s the friends I’ve lost touch with. The ones I see in photos posted by their other friends looking happy and smiling – that is happy and smiling without me.  And it tugs at you. They’ve chosen to spend their lives with these other people and as silly as it is, it feels like rejection.

I can count on one hand the number of Facebook friends I continue to interact with in any kind of meaningful way once the Facebook honeymoon period is over. Those early days of comparing and contrasting and measuring myself up, with nothing to show for it but a  black mark on my soul. The “There’s yet another friend that’s doing better than you” Facebirthmark.

So it’s clear then, if I value my soul and my sanity I should hang up my Facebook hat and start living my life in the REAL world where REAL people live, not with the better versions that are carefully constructed and lived out online.

Let’s be honest here, I am pretty great, but I’m nowhere near as great as I appear online.

So what do you think? Is it about time YOU saved your soul from Facebook self-destruct?

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9 Responses to “Is Facebook killing your self-esteem?”

  1. Kelloggsville June 12, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

    I use it for guiding mainly in discreet groups for sharing information in a single place but the timeline is a tough cookie to ignore. Defriending anyone who pisses me off by say, being thin or happy, is cathartic but on a long dark Sunday tea time of the soul trawl though the profiles of happy, successful ‘that could have been me’s’ or the ‘supermum, proud mummy moment so you are a crap mother’ feelings brings me down. Of course, can’t leave because I’m tied up with it in guiding groups and so the mental anguish must continue. Still, there’s always candy crush to destroy the last dying remains of any self respect I once had!

  2. Looking for blue sky June 12, 2013 at 8:37 pm #

    Doesn’t bother me: I love that I can keep in touch with news and photos of family and friends even though I live in a different country, and it is still – for me – the easiest way to chat, even to summon my kids downstairs for dinner? Or is that really sad :)

  3. vegemitevix June 12, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

    Oh hun, first things first – I don’t think you need to feel you’re coming up short against any measure, and that career you ‘once had’ it’s still there. In fact, it’s still there but in a much better form, one that will encompass your growth as a woman, mother and wife. How do I know? Because I’m looking back at my younger self in a similar situation saying pretty much the same thing. Secondly – I use Facebook to connect with people I care about. I try to engage with people who ‘get’ me, the now-me, not the me of school or Uni or early career days. Would it be a death knell to your relationship if you were to quietly unfriend the ones you no longer have resonance with? And lastly – when are you coming Down Under? Would love to see you all here. Vx

  4. Kirsten June 12, 2013 at 10:56 pm #

    Yes!! When you’re 37 and single, Facebook is absolute hell… especially when people post too much information about the colour of their baby’s poo. But it also allows me to keep in touch with my international friends and family. So I put up with it. And if it gets too much, I delete the app for a while.

  5. 21st Century Mummy (@Mummytweets) June 13, 2013 at 4:03 am #

    I know a lot of people coming off it too. I actually prefer Twitter and don’t really use Facebook, other than to put photos up so family and friends back home can see what we’re up to. I do like it as a means of keeping in touch with people I meet on my travels.

  6. Molly June 13, 2013 at 6:46 am #

    Love this post. I think of all the social media platforms, Facebook is the worst for making you feel a bit crap about how you’re doing. Sometimes it’s like everyone on there is shouting at how great they are – and then I hate myself for succumbing and wanting to shout too! I find it easier to hide the biggest shouters in my feed on days when I need to be on Facebook but can’t be doing with the noise. For me, the pros outweigh the cons – I use it for work, to connect with my real life friends and family and to share banter when I’m working from home – so coming off it isn’t an option. That said, there are some days when I just don’t bother opening it. Having a No Facebook Day can be pretty liberating!

  7. Sandrine Berges June 13, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

    I use facebook to keep in touch with friends and family abroad. I see how my neices and nephews are getting on, chat with my sisters whenever I feel like it. I went back to London for a trip last month and managed to arrange to meet four friends I hadn’t seen for between 5 and 14 years. Facebook not only helped us stay in touch, but seeing their faces often in photos means that I didn’t have this shock and discomfort upon seeing them again. It was lovely. At the moment, I’m using it for more political reasons: there’s quite a lot of bad stuff going on in Turkey, and Facebook enables me to check on friends, colleagues and students, to see that they’re still safe, and to share info with them like doctors and lawyers’ phone numbers. A lot of people are using twitter rather than to spread info about the events to the rest of the world, as we have very poor press coverage, but Facebook is a bit less public so there’s less chance of being punished for spreading news there (people who tweet are being arrested!). So yeah, facebook is a big part of my life and I’m not going to give it up.

  8. Mrs Teepot June 15, 2013 at 4:20 pm #

    I hear that! I am absolutely the person crying over other people’s husbands and kids. Every “so and so has changed their relationship status to engaged/married”, every baby photo, it is the most depressing place on the internet, but sadly it’s also the only way I stay in touch with most of those people…what to do?

  9. Harriet June 26, 2013 at 6:46 pm #

    Oh yes! I flirt with deleting my account. And every time I think “yes! I’ll do it!”, then I get a lovely message from someone I haven’t heard from in years, or lovely news from someone I’ve lost touch with, or something that makes me smile and I don’t. But it does get me down on a regular basis. I find the halfway house is, at those moments, to take it off my phone and go cold turkey for a while.

    I then get a chance to enjoy my own life without comparing it to everyone else’s (and let’s face it you’re comparing it to the bits they want to show off about, not the dull, mundane stuff that gets us all down about our own lives. No one posts “Just emptied the dishwasher”, “Enjoying having a seat on the tube”, “got home to find today’s post was three bills and a circular from Lidl” etc etc do they?

    And then when I’ve got over it/myself (delete as applicable) I put it back on again.

    Until the next time.

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