Facebook: It may be time to log off. Digital illustration: Judy Green
In today's world, not having Facebook is akin to leprosy. Surely something must be wrong with you if you have no social account to show for your life. How will people follow your achievements, your relationships or your weight gain without a social presence to stalk?
The existential crisis of the 21st century has become: "If something happens and you don't put it on Facebook, did it ever happen?" Joking aside, it's true many of us feel that Facebook is the be-all and end-all of socialising; that having no social network is the same as having no friends.
But what our connected world has not taken into account are the several ways in which Facebook can harm our lives, instead of enhancing them. Sure, you can reconnect with lost friends and family, find job opportunities and keep a digital log of your life. But more commonly Facebook has become a dark hole - a place where jealousy and competition breed, where self-worth is defined by a catalogue of carefully tagged pictures and an overall productivity time-suck.
Ultimately, we risk comparing our everyday lives to our online personas, which are often overwhelmingly composed of curated success stories and positive experiences.
So why not simply log off? Though it's much easier said than done, willpower comes in stages. Deactivating could be the cold turkey option, but simply reducing time spent on the site could greatly improve your quality of life. Here are some reasons you should consider it:
1. Unconscious addiction
Facebook is habit forming. Much like any other addictive substance, it's completely plausible to get hooked on social networking, one study claims. But unlike smoking or other dangerous activities, it's much harder to notice the backlash from Facebook addiction, meaning you might not even know just how hooked you are. On average, women spent 81 minutes per day Facebooking, and men spent 64 minutes.
Seth Fiegerman points out Facebook is like a credit card - it encourages you to overspend in time you may not have. It's wiser to avoid it now than realise the lost resources later on.
2. Low self-esteem
As if you haven't punished yourself enough for that holiday weight gain, leave it to Facebook to make you feel worse.
One study shows Facebook users, especially females, feel more body conscious by looking at friends' online photos. More than half of the 600 study participants said looking at others' online albums left them wishing for the same body or weight as the person pictured - creating more negative feelings than a fashion magazine might stir up. The study added that younger users were more likely to develop eating disorders because of the pressures of social networks.
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