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The psychological and societal annoyances and benefits of Facebook

The psychological and societal annoyances and benefits of Facebook

Yes, we know that selfies are all the rage and that they are so five minutes ago.  Furthermore, Facebook’s power is on the decline. Or so say its competitors. One main statistic that is used to preach about the demise of Facebook is that Facebook is the realm of those older than 40.  Apparently, only those new media used by the younger generation are not only hip but are also viable. .   I personally prefer twitter to Facebook. And I prefer WordPress to twitter. We all have our hang-ups and preferences.  Let us not forget that Facebook still has over a billion users.  Some say tomato, others say tomahto.    Facebook has had a major impact at the individual and societal levels. Who know what will come after Facebook, but it is still here for now.

Below are some of my psychological, but not academic-dribble driven, reasons for why Facebook may continue to be on the decline in the distant future.

People who insist on only contacting you via the facebook inbox. There are some individuals that have forgotten how to email or text.   I have purposefully disabled Facebook notifications on my phone. I really don’t need to immediately (in the moment) know when you checked into an airport or that you went to the bathroom.   Because I disabled notifications, I don’t readily see when someone messages me on Facebook.   Yet some people just contact me that way no matter how many times I note that they should text me. Facebook me, maybe I’ll respond.  You need me, just call or text me.

Receiving a Facebook friend request within minutes of meeting each other.   I know a New York minute is super-fast. However, some people take that minute a bit too far.  Just the other day, I was at a business meeting. Within a few hours of the meeting ended, I received a Facebook request from one of the meeting participants.  How was this person able to find me? Oh yes, that’s right. With Facebook, it is very hard to have an account with a fake name. Yes, there are things such as privacy settings, that I really don’t believe work.  You know why Twitter is so popular? It’s because you can use pseudonyms that aren’t your real names and avatars that aren’t your real faces.   Because Facebook is no longer really for friends to connect, it has become a mechanism for those that have an intense need to be liked and connected-even if it means that you connect with people you just met and have no deep history with.

Submitting individual photo posts of the same event or uploading a 100 pictures of the same event.   I get it. You went to the mall today and decided to goof around and take pictures while there. One to five photos are ok. One hundred photos uploaded to the same mall photo folder is just nutty and a bit OCD. Are you afraid that we didn’t get your shopping euphoria from the first 20 photos?   What may be even worse is when people upload that picture cache one at a time as a separate post.   Just because this time you placed your hand on your left side of the waist does not make it any more interesting than the other photos where you hand is on your right side.  We get it: you think you are multi-faceted. Guess what: not so much.

I was not there, why are you tagging me.   I have noticed recently that I keep getting Facebook emails to alert me to the fact that I was tagged in a photo by a certain person. I go to look and do not see myself there. I see a generic event description or a vase of flowers.   Why tag me when I am not in the photo? Do you need me that badly to be a part of your life? If so, call or text me.

Who were you before?  There have been times when I am scrolling through my Facebook feed and I come across a friend that I do not recognize.  The Facebook notification notes that said individual change their profile.    Their photo has changed as well as their name. I now have no clue who this person is. I have one person in particular that has gone with this name and photo change for a good 6 months.  I almost want to ask who were they when we first met?  Most of the time they have changed for some political reason but I have no clue who they were or who they are now trying to be.

Long-winded arguments.   Unbelievably, people have all out wars on Facebook. There are the wars between couples who stay together but for some reason air all their personal problems for the world to see.   It is so awkward to experience that level of intimacy. Kind of makes one feel like a dirty voyeur. Then there are the wars between couples that break up via Facebook.   These wars help us feel lucky to not be involved in such a public childish display. It provides a bit of downward comparisons that does help boost one’s ego. Then there are the wars fought between a group of individuals.   These often get started by someone’s ridiculous Facebook status update that just cannot be ignored.

Outraged posts at things that didn’t happen. One of my favorite most annoying thing on Facebook is when people get punked by a sarcastic or satirical post. They either upload something from the Onion or some other such site and then note how horrible the situation is.  Usually someone takes it on them and alerts then to the facts that the original article was not real or it was satire.  Gives new meaning to the term fake outrage.

Now these are my Facebook pet peeves. However, there is some recent research that sheds further light on how Facebook impacts us and what may be some other peeves regarding its use. For instance, a recent study (Keel, 2014) found that frequent Facebook use amongst college women is linked to eating disorders.  Another study this past year (Kross et al., 2013) found that those on Facebook tend to me more unhappy than others.   Furthermore, research out of the United Kingdom  found that posting photographs on Facebook (and I would argue particularly selfies) is a major way to lose friends because one’s Facebook network may not be able to relate to people who constantly post photographs of themselves.

It would appear that Facebook may not be the healthiest venue for a person’s self-esteem.  And that my friends, is my major pet peeve about Facebook.   Why do we need to use something that makes us feel bad or annoys us? Here, however, I will pose a counterargument.  In the recently released book Uprising by Sally Armstrong, the author argues that women are uprising around the world due in large part to Facebook.  Women have connected with each other throughout the world. Women have learned from each other. Women have shared their stories through the advent of Facebook.  Women have mobilized, notes Sally Armstrong, because of Facebook. At an individual level, Facebook may cause some women to make upwards comparisons that are unhealthy for them.   However, Facebook can also help with the orchestration of a movement to improve the lives of women at a societal and structural level.

2 replies »

  1. Yeah, I agree with all your points! Especially the second one. I really hate it when someone I barely know requests to add me on Facebook. I tried using the excuse of having no Wifi (since I’m overseas) and they offered, rather pushily I feel, to turn their hotspot on so I can just add them. I mean, excuse me? What? Have people started doing that now just so they can add someone?

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