Facebook anxiety

I’ve written before about how much I hate Facebook.

Not only do you never know what your privacy status is (I just assume everything I post is public), but, more to the point, it sucks you in.

I’ve been talking about it with friends who agree, and I stumbled across this website of a famous IT exec recently.

Life is pretty awesome when you live it outside. Get off Facebook, get rid of your TV, and go be interesting. Don’t try to capture your interesting moments in a zillion contrived photos; don’t try to hold on to the people you meet through some ridiculous virtual stamp collection; don’t broadcast a message to your friends to brag about what just happened.

I’m not going to go crazy and cancel all my accounts and get rid of my TV just so I can be one of those people that tells you they don’t have a TV, but  I’ve come to the realization that Facebook makes me anxious.

For example, I decided that Thursday last week was a beautiful fall night to smoke hookah with Mr. B. As soon as I decided it, I thought.  Oh, I should post a Facebook update. Or take a picture of the hookah and then upload it. Why did I want to let people know that I was smoking? Because I wanted them to think that I was cool, exotic, to be jealous, and to leave lots of comments on my Facebook page, which I would later refresh to check.

All of this was perfectly normal inside my head, but it sounds perfectly stupid if you’re actually talking about it. Are all of us really living our lives for Facebook updates? So we can get a few likes on a status?   Are people posing in certain pictures a certain way because it’s more Facebook-friendly? (Yes)

Or, my favorite is when I have something going wrong in my life and I leave a vague but anxious status up like, “Oh, man.” and “Studying makes me cry,” something to that effect, because I want people to pay attention and send me sympathy messages. It can take at least 3-4 minutes to craft a really good Facebook status update. That’s time that I could be writing my novel. Or eating the challah I bought last week before Mr. B gets to it.

That’s stupid.

I also don’t want to be jealous that someone is living a more glamorous life than me.  It gnaws away at me all the time, making me extremely unhappy.  I am just a boring suburbanite in Philadelphia, but here are people joining the Israeli army, traveling for business, taking extended vacations to Hawaii, being admitted to Harvard, and taking tours of Nutella factories.

Before Facebook, I was still a perfectionist and I knew in my head that there were people achieving things and that I should hustle and achieve things, too.  But my friends on Facebook make me feel completely inadequate. Not because they’re terrible people, but because the whole point of Facebook is to pull out significant but positive events in your life. Like, you’re not going to post “Just had to get two cavities removed and my gums bled. ” or “Found out I’m too fat to fit in my jeans.” or “This house is disgusting and I just found moldy bananas in the fridge.” Right? Everyone who is poor enough not to afford a computer and doesn’t speak English is also not on Facebook, so you’re not getting the really horrible stories that make you appreciate what you have.

So you have a biased sample size.

The problem with giving up Facebook, though, is that if I didn’t check it, I wouldn’t know that a high school friend graduated from law school, that another high school friend got married, or that another friend is in Europe.

So what do I do? So I’m conflicted. Which is just what Zuck and the Gootch wanted.

People who are not on Facebook: are you happier?

For now, I’ll just keep Numair’s message in mind,

Live your life as though it is the world’s best-kept secret, as though you are living in an amazing TV show with an audience of one.

And isn’t that what this blog is?




21 thoughts on “Facebook anxiety

  1. People fascinate me, which is why I love Facebook & blogs. Instead of being jealous I am filled with inspiration. Cheesy. But true. Sure it sucks seeing status updates from Monte Carlo but now I’ve added it to places I must see.

    What difference is Twitter? Or Pinecrest? Or any other social media outlet? Besides having a more personal connection. Your twitter updates of studying for school are so inspiring. 

    1. I get fascinated by blogs, but not by Facebook. I don’t know what it is, but Facebook, not Twitter or Pinterest, really annoys me. 

  2. There are always several ways to look at the same. I enjoyed all that you wrote here because I can definitely relate to the feelings. And at the same time I have gotten so much out of my use of social media, Facebook – which I too dislike a lot – included, that I have to think twice about all the rants and criticism that we all have about how stupid it is to want to publish updates and publicize very mundane thoughts. All in all it is just very human.

    We are wired to want to share. Do we succeed? Not so often, but we try and try again.

  3. That is interesting– I feel like my Twitter friends are much, much cooler than my facebook friends and thus I tend to be more jealous of them :-P Facebook doesn’t make me jealous, just allows me to keep in touch with friends. Sometimes the mundane updates get a little annoying, though, I have to say. That’s why I love Twitter, but also feel a bit jealous at the same time of all the incredible careers people are pursuing!

    1. I do kind of agree with you…people on Twitter are always doing glamorous things and flying to glamorous places. But I don’t know them directly, so it takes the sting out. 

  4. I totally agree — FB/G+/Twitter all frustrate me. I love knowing what’s going on in my friends’ lives, but I also use all these social media for work. So that means that I’m always representing not just myself, but my organization, too. And yes, it takes a long time to craft a good status update or even a good tweet (even if the latter was invented specifically to get you to post very quick, off-the-top-of-your-head updates).
    P.S. I’m one of those people who don’t have a TV ;-)

  5. I thought about this a lot while i was reading: http://xkcd.com/77/.  it’s only marginally related, but I thought I’d share my thoughts with you.
    you know, we want so badly for people to look at us and say, “jeez, you’re so awesome, I need to purchase a hundred new pairs of knickers thanks to you” about 300 times a day.  And no matter how boring and basic all of our lives are (they are, don’t lie), each of our facebook status updates and tweets are mini screams that crescendo into a massive scream into your social-media megaphone of choice basically yelling to people, “I am IMPORTANT!!!  MUCH MORE SO THAN EVERYONE ELSE”
    but in reality, everyone else is saying that same thing simultaneously.  maybe if we synchronize our pleas for recognition, we can amplify our sound waves and break through walls and stuff.  or maybe find the brown note.

  6. It’s strange, I’ve been thinking about leaving FB and staying only on G+ for a week now. I can’t make up my mind how much I stand to lose by doing so. Even though I can’t think of anything real I would lose by leaving fb, I still have the feeling that I will. I think I’m being silly, but… then again, silly in which direction?

    1. Most of my friends have transitioned from FB to G+ already. I find that because the privacy settings are so much better controllable on G+, we engage in a different way. We  have these 100+ comment discussions about real-life issues. We share more private things — and only to the people with whom we actually want to share. At the same time, I’ve maintained my FB account b/c part of my job involves social media. I don’t want to open my G+ account to my work contacts, so FB it is.

  7. I have reached a point, once or twice, where I stop checking Facebook because it makes me feel inadequate.  I have to remind myself that people post only the good parts and the good pictures before I remember I’m actually doing pretty good for myself.  So I’ve learned the hard way to not let it suck me in. 
    I rarely post new updates or pictures, but I still use my account to keep in touch with long-distance relatives.  I can see pictures of their new babies and remember their birthdays more easily (because FB tells me, yay!) and chat with them once in a blue moon. 
    And I refuse to go on Google+.  I don’t need yet another account to stress over.

  8. I am not on Facebook, and I am happier for it. I got rid of it over a year ago. I was working a really crappy job, and seeing my former classmates (especially those who got worse grades than I did) succeed professionally was really putting me in a depressive state. So, one day I just deactivated it. I haven’t looked back. It didn’t put me into a social pariah state like I feared it would. I still see my friends. If someone wants me at their party they can text me, tweet me, call me, e-mail me. Let’s face it, there is no shortage of ways to get in touch with someone. 
    When I had Facebook, I spent a lot of time hate-following. Like, I really really dislike this person, but I MUST KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON IN THEIR LIFE AT ALL TIMES SO I CAN FEEL SMUG OR OUTRAGED. It wasted a lot of energy. Now that I am FB free, I cannot recommend it enough. Also, I realize this comment makes me sound a little crazy.

      1. Depends on how much energy you are wasting on it. In my case, I had a lot of free time, as my job was not in any way challenging. You seem to be much busier than I was. 

  9. I love FB, but mostly because I have a small number of snarky friends who are now spread all around the world and we can share only virtual smartass sessions. Which is better than nothing.
    As much as I make myself miserable comparing myself to other people in general, that’s just me – it definitely doesn’t seem related to what I read/post on FB. But of course, I’m only FB “friends” with people I’m actually friends with. And, you know, relatives (ugh).

  10. I actually agree with you about FB — because of it, I know way too much about people I’m not REALLY friends with. And it gets kind of awkward when people say, oh yea I saw that you did x, y, or z because I saw it on FB. There’s always that feeling of if it’s on FB, it’s public knowledge, but still makes it weird when you get called out of it in real life.  

  11. I stumbled on this blog the other day when I googled “facebook anxiety.” It is refreshing to find others expressing similar feelings towards facebook. For a little while I have been trying to distance myself from facebook, and it is more difficult than I anticipated. On the one hand I could not delete my account becuase I DO use it to stay in touch with old friends and distant relatives. On the other hand, I wind up fighting feelings of guilt and anxiety over how emotionally invested I can become in… statuses? comments? It’s all so petty. Undeniably inescapable, but loathsome nonetheless. 

  12. I just deactivated. Spent a lot of time worrying why I hadnt heard back from messages, why people logged off chat as soon as I logged on. My anxiety may be grounded in reality to some extent, but I’m sure facebook has a way of amplifying it so that I think EVERY time someone seems to ignore me on FB, it’s because they ARE purposefully ignoring me. Well, that can’t be true.

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