The Power of Facebook On Our Mental Health

Facebook has many benefits, but if not careful, it can quickly become a hazard to your health.

 Facebook is the most popular social network site in the world now. It has been a decade since it launched, yet its  popularity is still very much on the rise. It has one billion active users worldwide, that’s about three times the population of the United States!

Facebook mission‘s statement is:

[quote]“Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.”[/quote]

 

Facebook has become a very important part of our lives. It is very well designed; the simplicity in the design and efficiency in performance make Facebook the best social site in the world. Some benefits include:

  • It helps people connect in an open medium beyond any geographic boundaries.
  • It helps people to maintain relationships that otherwise would be lost. Facebook helps us to get to know what is going on in everyone’s lives, our friends, “frenemies”, co-workers and peers. Facebook helps us to interact with people with the same interests and ideas across the globe, joining groups and support fan pages.
  • Facebook can be used for educational purposes. We can share our articles, blogs, photos, etc. to thousands of people.
  • It is a convenient medium to share our thoughts and feelings. We can share our achievements to get some appreciation; we can share our sorrow to get support.
  • Facebook advertising helps to market businesses and organizations.

Although there are many advantages to Facebook,

there is a dark side that can seriously harm us.

There is increasing evidence that there are

links between Facebook use and our mental health.

 

Experts point out various mental health issues resulting from Facebook use:

1. Addiction

For some people Facebook can be more addicting than cigarettes or alcohol. It is common for some people to check out their Facebook pages, even before they get out of bed. Also, some people are addicted to using the site excessively, chatting, playing games, etc. It also appears that many people are addicted to using Facebook as a way to gain attention and boost their self-esteem.

international student voice magazine_facebook-Are-you-a-Facebook-addict-Test-and-find-out

2. FOMO (fear of missing out)

This is a phenomenon in the digital era. The popularity of Facebook and sharing everything has led to everyone feeling the pressure to attend every event and share every experience. People think “Is everybody having fun without me?” and “ Is everyone’s life is so happy except mine!” but who is to say they are telling the truth? We are often fooled by people’s Facebook virtual identities, thinking that their lives are better than our own. What is essential to remember is that they wear masks. Typically people share ideal representations about themselves.

FOMO-international student voice magazineinternational student voice magazine_FOMO

 3. Stalking

The term “Facebook stalking” has often been used to mean looking for someone’s photo albums, status posts or other information without interacting with them. But stalking on social network can be truly threatening and there have been several instances in the last few years of people, mostly young women, being psychologically scarred or murdered by a Facebook stalker.

People often stalk on Facebook their crushes and exes. In a crush scenario, you simply cannot get enough information on your sweetheart and every update and new picture only serves your obsession. When it comes to exes, people make themselves more miserable as they follow the exe’s new life. Really, why do people do this to themselves?  Why waste your time focusing on someone who has no feelings for you or who isn’t a part of your life anymore? Move on to people who want to be included in your life, instead of living off the scraps of your ex as displayed through his or her online persona, which at best, is a shadow of the real thing.

Facebook stalk_international student voice magazine

 4. Obsession

Facebook has the ability to increase people’s obsessions with other people. Facebook feeds the insatiable natural human curiosity. It gives us some sort of satisfaction for our curious minds. Casual curiosity may turn into obsession behavior.

5. Envy and jealousy

In a study, one in every three Facebook users experience feelings of envy and jealousy after they looked at positive posts of friends who appeared smiling, happy and successful. Facebook becomes a place for people to flaunt their successes. Think about it. How often do you see someone posting something bad or embarrassing about themselves, such as a personal failure?

Facebook international student voice magazine

6. Insecurity

On Facebook, when you see  people’s lives seem better than yours, two things might happen: either you will become motivated to improve your life or you will feel insecure, comparing your accomplishments with others, as people naturally do.

7. Stress

Those users with a large number of friends can experience stress. If users receive hundreds of posts from friends, they might feel overwhelmed and exhausted trying to respond to them.

8. Cyberbullying

This refers to the use of the Internet to harm or harass people in a deliberate, repeated and hostile manner due to jealousy, anger, control or revenge. This harassment can take many forms. The least serious type may involve someone damaging the reputation of his or her victim and turning other people against the victim. The cyber bullies may use false accusations, defamation and slander.

According to Enough is Enough (EIE), an organization that aims to make the Internet use safer for children and families, 95% of teenagers who use social media have witnessed forms of cyberbullying on social networking sites and 33% have been victims of cyberbullying. Teen girls are very vulnerable to these activities. Many news reports describe how many girls become mentally depressed or commit suicide after being harassed on Facebook.

Conclusion

Regardless of whether you realize it, you are spending a great deal of time and effort in creating your digital identity on Facebook. Needless to say, people are conditioned to project only their best, albeit fake selves on their Facebook profiles in this digital age. Many Facebook profiles are like a fictional movie about how people want to be seen.

Do not be fooled to believe in everything you read in Facebook. Take care of your mental health and well-being because health is wealth. Have time for real friends and a real life. Facebook has many advantages, but it can also mess with our minds.

Since Facebook’s influence will only increasing, it might be the time to find a balance in using Facebook. Do the benefits of Facebook outweigh the consequences of mental health suffering? It is hard to tell, but definitely Facebook has a huge power over people all over the world.

 

international student voice magazine Sarah AlyasiriSarah Naji Alyasiri

ISV Magazine Correspondent, Region 10

Sarah.A@internationalstudentvoice.org

 

 

 

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2 comments

  1. Great article! I believe that we all are guilty of the above mentioned topics. I agree with you Sarah, that we need to be able to balance our use of facebook. Nice article! Thanks for sharing with us.

  2. Very well researched, written and observed, Sarah! Related to your point on stalking on Facebook, I know a couple who used to obsess over what their significant other was doing on Facebook including status updates, liking others’ posts and friending others. It caused issues of jealousy and distrust for things that may not have actually been happening. I think many people can get so wrapped up in their virtual world, or that of others, that they become detached from their realities and can start to believe the false “realities” that they have created in their minds. For the couple I know, they both deleted their Facebook accounts and have a much stronger, happier relationship without the distraction of their virtual worlds.

    Furthermore, technology has been, and will continue to be, a way of the future. It is how younger generations predominantly communicate and interact. Although it can be a convenient medium for communication, in-person contact should be stressed and taught as the preferred way of communication, for many reasons. Nothing beats spending time with friends, real friends – and, I don’t mean text messaging with them.

    Finally, use of tablets and other forms of interactive technology is proving to have more negative effects (than positive ones) on children. It is so easy to calm, distract and quiet a child with various forms of entertainment on tablets, but what messages are we sending? Do we not have the patience, time and will to give the children the proper attention or discipline that they need and deserve? Are we contributing to child obesity by not stressing he overwhelming benefits of staying active mentally and physically? Are we also responsible for mental health issues in our youth?

    Technology CAN be a great thing; but, how we use technology determines how great it can truly be. It’s not the technology alone that contributes to these issues, it’s the user who should get most of the blame. When was the last time we have sat down for dinner with family or friends and someone was not glued to their mobile device? When and why did our virtual world of contacts and entertainment take priority to those who are in it presently in physical form? We all deserve a little more respect from those who are glued to their devices, just as much as we need to show more respect for those who want to be in our presence and give us their company in the physical world.

    So, me time we pick up our devices, let’s stop to think who or what is more important – and, see what positive changes we can make in our lives and how they affect others.

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