I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook.
Sometimes I think it's great. It's a great way to stay in touch with people from college, with friends who live in another country, and a way to reconnect with long lost friends. It's fun to see what people are up to, to post pictures of special events, to create an event to get people together; it's definitely a boredom filler.
But is it really a good or healthy thing? Stalking people (not in a full blown creepy way- just the typical Facebook way) by looking at pictures of friends you aren't even connected with anymore... that is really what a lot of people do on Facebook isn't it? I know I am guilty! Especially now that I have an iPhone. If I'm bored, or sitting waiting for someone to meet me at a coffee shop, why not fill the time checking out the News Feed on Facebook? But really- WHY? Half of the people's pictures that I am looking at, I haven't talked to in years. Some of them I really have never talked to- I don't really know why I am even connected with them.
With my frustration against Facebook today- it is really easy for me to see all the negative impacts that it could have on people's lives. At this point, I should probably admit that there was a dumb incident that is the reason for this rant against Facebook... it frustrates me to even mention it because it makes me realize the impact that I have allowed a social-network to have on me. Long story short- I realized that someone had de-friended me.
[Honestly- I don't even know why it bothers me. We were never really actual friends. She always had some strange issue with me, I could never figure it out. It was a high school thing; even some of my girl friends knew that she didn't like me. I tried to just shrug it off, realize that not everyone in life is going to be my number one fan and let it go. But I'm a person with feelings, so of course it still didn't feel nice.]
Going back to Facebook- this whole dumb incident made me think about the negative effects that this social network can have on people. I would be really interested to know if there is a statistic about how Facebook affects depression or body image or self esteem. I can only imagine that each of these would be affected negatively right? You see all these pictures of beautiful people online, doesn't it make you wish that you looked like that? Or had that specific outfit. What if you friend request someone and they don't accept? Or you ask someone to hang out, they say they can't and then you realize they were hanging out with other people? How about middle schoolers, or teenagers who are so affected by peer pressure or what their friends do. This cannot be a healthy thing for them can it? You can basically see what everyone else is doing, which means you can see what you're left out from- who is "not your friend", what boys are giving what girls more attention... and so on.
I am doing a body image seminar with a friend for a middle school ministry at a church next weekend, and thinking about that seminar and this dumb situation with Facebook just made me think that there's got to be some link to people having skewed body images, or self esteem as a result of this website. I consider myself a pretty secure, confident person- I am happy with who I am physically, I have great friends, feel like I'm pretty nice (I'm human, I can be mean too) and overall I'm in pretty good spirits. If a dumb "de-friending" situation can cause me to be shaken a bit, feeling a little dejected, a bit unloved and questioning why this "friend" has chosen to "end our relationship"- then how significantly does this affect an insecure, unstable, young girl who is still trying to figure out who she is and very much affected by what people think of her??
I know I can't fix this problem. And I know that not everything is bad about Facebook. Does it mean I am going to jump ship and close my account? Honestly, probably not. But does it make me second guess the benefits of the site, and the role I allow it to have in my daily life? Absolutely. I can control how I much I am impacted by it, by limiting how much I go on, or how much I let myself become caught up in it, or obsessed with seeing what other people are doing. I just hope that others can do the same, that they can find their identity and security in who they really are and not let a social-network tell them otherwise.