Friday, February 11, 2011

Facebook Oversimplifies Life

To avoid depression and despair, stop stalking your acquaintances. Instead use a phone call to connect with friends.

Justin Rastelli

*Poke* New notification! Your friend just posted a status, “OMG Mr. Mittens just sneezed!” Meanwhile, another moment of your life slips away. Facebook has successfully reduced our entire existence into a few short, semi-witty sentences. These mind-numbing status updates, coupled with a recent study suggesting Facebook may actually cause unhappiness in people, suggests now is the time to cut back on our usage.

A recent study from Stanford University found that being an active member of Facebook results in lower levels of happiness for the user. The study determined members of the site overestimated how happy their friends actually were, causing them to believe their lives paled in comparison. Thus, individuals experienced more feelings of loneliness and depression. Perhaps this is why there are so many heads hung low while walking across the mall.

The site designed to bring people together and create a community is in fact driving people apart. It removed the socialization from socializing. No longer do you require interaction with a friend to learn about their lives. Instead, you simply read the highlight reel that is a Facebook wall.

Facebook, in less than a decade, has also successfully replaced the term “acquaintance” with “friend.” I hate that I have to be the one to tell you this, but you do not actually have 500-plus friends. More accurately, your “friends” are a group of people you do not talk with but instead watch. One of these “friends” is probably looking at your photos right now. In all likelihood, they are judging you and those extra pounds you gained since high school — comparing their life to yours in the hopes of feeling better if only for that split second.

The amount of time spent creating a single status about that silly thing Mr. Mittens just did may seem negligible. Over time though each status update, page browsing and photo creeping adds up. Each refresh is another moment of delayed and wasted potential.

I challenge everyone to go an entire week without poking, notifying, tagging or even logging into Facebook. A whopping seven whole days spent calling up and making plans with friends instead of watching them. Go on an adventure, create something or learn a new talent. Use this week to call up that certain someone you have been watching for a while now.

If going without your profile is too much, you can always stand on a corner with pictures of yourself and a page-long biography, all while shouting every inane thought that pops into your head.

To be fair, there are few tools more effective at organizing events and people than Facebook, and the birthday notification system is a great way to know your friends have not passed away yet.

Conveniently enough, these tools already exist. It is probably sitting in your pocket in silent mode lest that incoming text disturb those around you. Here is a crazy idea, when you want to hang out with friends, try calling them. Of course, you could always just send them a text message if you have forgotten how to talk on the phone.

The greatest social networking site ever to be created has started to cause more harm than good. It is no longer a means to connect with friends. It has become an excuse to sequester us away so we can avoid reality. In the end, it is actually causing us to feel more disconnected from our friends and family. It is time to log off Facebook and go experience life in its true form. I can almost guarantee you will be happier for it.

Justin is offline.

1 comment:

EKSeattle said...

Interesting article Rory. I have a feeling it won't be too long before I log off of facebook for the most part. I am slowly trimming out those I never talk with and I am finding the whole medium less and less compelling. The bad part is, I know as soon as something better comes along, I am sure I will hop on it!