Now with that said, many people use facebook to stay connected with family, maintain friendships (by not directly talking to friends…that’s for another post), network, and find others with similar interests. These reasons can all be healthy and actually improve life satisfaction. When facebook is used to stay connected with others, it can be very rewarding and beneficial.
So what's the problem? People by nature compare themselves to others. There are a number of theories (e.g., Festinger’s social comparison theory) that suggest people get their self-worth and value based on comparing themselves to others. Again, that’s not unhealthy. It can actually be very beneficial to compare yourself to others. The problem arises when the comparisons are not based on completely accurate information.
Facebook allows for a filtered, biased representation of the individual. Profiles are full of pictures of home-made meals, exotic trips, and daily highlights (kudos to those who share daily lowlights). With enough facebook surfing, these snapshots can seem like the norm. You start comparing your "average" life to friends who just returned from a vacation, make meals from scratch, or always seem to be having success. That becomes your belief of what others around you are accomplishing. You start to question your value and negative thoughts creep in.
It’s important to keep an accurate perspective. For every picture of culinary masterpieces, there could be countless pictures of leftovers. For every picture of breathtaking views of the beach, there could be hundreds of pictures of a somber office cubicle. People tend to share the good and not the bad, especially on social media.
Facebook profiles are like reality TV. They're edited to show the eye-catching highlights as the mundane routine couldn't get the ratings. Keep that in mind.
In the 1900s it was don't judge a book by its cover. For the 2000s, maybe it should be don't judge a person or yourself by a facebook profile. Neither a book cover nor facebook tell the whole story.
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