Facebook has become the hook of interaction and action in a world that is converging on itself faster than we would like to believe. Everyone has an opinion and is jam-packed with ideas of change, love, fun and hate. What makes for a rather savoury blend of ideas, can also be a suffocation of flavours and content.
A SOCIO-PSYCHOLOGICAL REALITY
For 10 years, Facebook has ‘poked’, ‘Liked’ & ‘commented’ its way into our lives. Facebook has begun to dictate and walk alongside our life’s trajectories in a way that has started shaping our world view and opinions of ourselves and others.
How one genuinely feels has become less important, as compared to how one wants others to believe one is feeling.
Society has witnessed an unprecedented rise in the need for Personal PR & Image Projection unlike any other social trend throughout the history of man.
Facebook/Social media helps us connect with long-lost friends; it’s free, it helps us organise our various social contacts, keeps us abreast of what’s happening in the lives of our friends, helps us plan events, helps us share things we like on the internet, and it helps build brands. It also happens to be the breakthrough dream project of a hip rebellious success story in the world of technology and it’s the common thread that binds people of diverse age and ethnicity across various geographies and cultural mindsets.
WHAT’S THERE TO LOSE?
Excessive time on Facebook: Spending a disproportionate time on Facebook and neglecting family and work commitments, because the Facebook world is found to be a more enjoyable virtual environment to spend time in, rather than the real world. For e.g., ignoring one’s office deadlines in order to spend more time browsing on Facebook & playing popular Facebook apps and games.
Social Oxygen: An almost oxygen-like dependency and obsessive need to socialise exclusively on Facebook rather than going out to meet real people and investing in real relationships. This is also linked with one’s self-esteem getting deeply affected, when one compares details of one’s life with the enviable or condemn-worthy lives of others. When one starts benchmarking one’s social life and status depending on what one sees others do and share on their Facebook feeds, it can lead to jealousy, frustration and in some extreme cases emotional breakdowns. For e.g., seeing someone else’s exotic vacation photos, or seeing someone’s big fat Indian wedding snaps, or seeing someone’s new possessions, upbeat nightlife or glamourous social circle’s photos, can lead to feelings of jealousy and unrequited inadequacy.
Compulsive PR: This is a self-conscious and self-image related need that translates into constantly projecting a certain picture of one’s lifestyle to others. This includes writing posts about the private details of one’s emotional ups and downs, or of life’s many moments, details of one’s schedule on Facebook constantly and obsessively, to the point of it taking precedence over all else. Photos, videos, comments and posts are employed to draw the attention of respective Facebook friends or members. For e.g., continuously posting updates on how one’s day is progressing to show everyone else how much fun one is having. This may be an exaggeration of facts, and can often come at the cost of ‘being one with the moment’ or ‘being socially limited’ with a ‘real’ travel companion, to spend more time on Facebook reading people’s comments on a certain moment or photo you have posted.
Status Update Anxiety: Feelings of anxiety, nervousness or guilt that are related to not ‘updating’ one’s status update. For e.g., continuously posting updates on how one’s day is progressing, and even while being in the bathroom.
Stalkers: These are people who become so obsessed, and enamoured or intrigued with the lives of others, that they spend all their time on the internet browsing through the profiles and lives of other people or a certain target. For e.g., a boy could become so smitten by a certain girl that he may spend all his time online trying to follow her life and to keep abreast of all the developments in her life, to the extent of ignoring his own life and needs.
Facebook Flirting: Using Facebook for casual romantic fumbles and to have casual affairs on the side with no real intention of commitment, but for the sole purpose of sexual or emotional release. For e.g., a married man chats with his wife’s best-friend on Facebook and starts developing feelings for her based on his continued interaction with her.
Trolls: People who enjoy raking up controversial issues and who use strong, aggressive, and sometimes abusive language to pick fights and to stir up a debate because they enjoy being a part of conflict and pandemonium. For e.g., making a loose statement on a gender issue or on a religiously coloured post, which has the potential to hurt the sentiments of certain individuals or groups.
Facebook addiction has started being recognised as an acute and perennial vexation by psychologists and counsellors, which though not fully medically recognised, has started becoming an emotional nightmare for all those who are unable to live life without some downtime on Facebook.
Those who have started compromising their sleep, time, dreams and are jeopardising their relationships and personal well-being to simply get their ‘fix’ of Facebook, need to do some serious thinking on what it is that constitutes a healthy and balanced life.
And, if the above symptoms are true for you, you’re probably addicted to Facebook/virtual world/social media.
Apart from the ensuing idle or unproductive behaviour, this obsession and addiction has become a very real phenomenon which can be dealt with in a few simple ways.
DETOX AND REHAB
Spend time with real people: This means attending events, investing time in a hobby, meeting friends and spending time outdoors. In the absence of social interludes, immersing oneself in chores, errands or housework can also be a viable distraction.
Kill those apps: Block or refrain from using certain apps or games that are notorious for their addictive nature and cause you to spend a large amount of time on them. You can also alternatively delete the Facebook app from your smartphone if it’s taking up too much of your time.
Time budgeting: Limit online use for an hour or less. Set an alarm or download a productivity app that helps you keep track of how much time you are spending online. Self Control, for example, is an application for Apple computers that lets you block access to email or particular websites for any amount of time you choose. Other such examples include ColdTurkey and Facebook Limiter.
Stay clear of the screen: Finding diversions or projects that help one stay away from the computer screen for sustained periods of time while being creatively occupied in another non-computer related activity. Read a book, take a walk, call a friend, walk your dog, clean your room, get fit, write something, take a nap, watch a movie, listen to music, but stay away from the computer screen or tablet at all costs.
Deactivate your account: In a worst case scenario, consider this as Facebook Detox, where you go off Facebook for a while before you come back. This is to challenge your dependency on it since it’s presumed that you have been symptomatic of some of the abovementioned Facebook addictions. Consider this as a last extreme measure, or a virtual trip down memory lane to a time without Facebook where you didn’t have to always ‘share’ photos or ‘comment’ on the lives and thoughts of others to feel connected with the world.
Addictions of any kind lead to psychological and physical dependencies in the absence of which one begins to feel weighed down and unfulfilled at a very core emotional level. Use Facebook to empower your brand and to enhance your life, but like all tools, moderation and a deep understanding of technology and yourself, can either help you rise to successes or bog you down with emotional baggage and small talk that can often lead to unimaginable bigger and more permanent scars.
So let me ‘share’ my final ‘comment’ on Facebook—you can use it! Or you can lose it!