Social Media has shaped the way people connect to each other. We are able to talk to someone who is on the complete opposite side of the planet from us with the touch of a button. We have access to all our friends and family right at our fingertips. But this power is going to our heads. How can these advances be a bad thing? Humans are social creatures so Social Media should help, rather than hinder, us. Through personal experience I have found that Social Media contributes to a decline in well-being to my peers. This has been addressed through a study from students at the University of Michigan. These researchers found that an overuse of Facebook instead of direct contact has a negative effect on how people felt from moment to moment. These findings are no surprise to me. I have felt that an abuse of Facebook and other Social Networks, such as Twitter, can attribute to negative moods in some of my friends.
With all the advances in technology today, like the iPhone or other smartphones, we can easily access all our Social Media accounts. We can easily check out what our friends are up to, and check out what others are saying about ourselves. We are so connected to these sites, that we might seem like zombies, or robots, to outsiders. But are they truly influenced by what we see on Facebook? This is what the researchers from the University of Michigan set out to find. They reached out to their fellow classmates for help with this experiment. The researchers sent a text message to participants five times a day for a two-week period. Each message contained a link to an online survey that the participant had to fill out. Every survey was made up of the same five questions: ““(1) How do you feel right now? (2) How worried are you right now? (3) How lonely do you feel right now? (4) How much have you used Facebook since the last time we asked? (5) How much have you interacted with other people “directly” since the last time we asked?” The second and third questions were always asked in a random order, as were the fourth and the fifth. The order in which the questions were asked could have affected the outcome of the answers. This could have also made the participants think about why they answered how they did. Could I be lonely because I haven’t seen any flesh and blood humans, only digital ones because I have spent all my time on Facebook?
After compiling all their data, the researchers found that when the participants used Facebook more over a given time period, the worse the felt afterwards. At the end of the study, the researchers asked participants to rate their life satisfaction level. These numbers declined significantly from the start of the study. The researchers also found that direct interactions with others did not contribute to the decline in well-being of the participants. In fact, they discovered that this face-to-face interaction led to a better well-being over time.
There different types of people who use Facebook as a means of making themselves feel better. The first type, I like to call the Diary Writers. That’s the person who uses Facebook as their personal diary. They rant away about how horrible their day has been and how nothing is going their way. Many of these people, it seems, only log on to complain about their horrible day. To these people, Facebook may seem like the place they go to when they need a break from reality, rant, and get on with their life.
There are also the Attention Seekers, who could easily fall into the previous category of Diary Writers. These are the people who tend to find something that is flawed about them, point it out, and complain about it. This results in their many friends commenting on the post saying things like “That’s not true! You’re beautiful on the inside and outside!” Whenever I see these posts, they always tend to get my eyes rolling and I keep scrolling.
In recent years cyberbullying has become a true horror that Facebook has played a part in. People choose to attack one individual because of their race, religion, or sexuality. They create Facebook pages where this person is ridiculed over and over again. Their self-esteem is broken down until they can’t take it anymore. In many cases the individual attempts suicide. I myself have been the target of cyberbullying before, and it is not enjoyable at all. This is a real problem that needs to be addressed. We have all been taught that bullying is wrong and we shouldn’t do it, but now we need to add cyberbullying to that as well. Being attacked in person is one thing, but being attacked in the comfort of your own home is not acceptable.
There is another side of Facebook as well. Those who actually use the service for what it was originally meant to be used for: connecting. In the 2010 movie The Social Network, which is based on the founding of Facebook, the character of Mark Zuckerburg states,
People want to go online and check out their friends, so why not build a website that offers that? Friends, pictures, profiles, whatever you can visit, browse around; maybe it’s someone you just met at a party. Eduardo, I’m not talking about a dating site, I’m talking about taking the entire social experience of college and putting it online.
In essence, that is what Facebook is still today, a way to connect people. We, as users, need to get back to the roots of Facebook and use it as it was originally intended to be.
Facebook reduces the well-being of its users, so what should we do now that we know of its effects. The answer is moderation. It is better that we use self-control when dealing with Social Media. If something is questionable, don’t post it. Remember what your parents have told you whenever you post anything online, once it’s there don’t expect it to disappear. What you post can come back to haunt you. When using Facebook and other Social Networks remember those trademark words that Uncle Ben always says to Peter Parker in any Spiderman material: “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Purpose: I have felt that an abuse of Facebook and other Social Networks, such as Twitter, can attribute to negative moods in some of my friends. In this paper I will explore the different negative effects that Facebook can have on those who use it.
Audience: The primary audience for this paper is the users of Social Networks, such as Facebook. They should take a look at their own online activity and decide if Facebook is negatively influencing their own lives.
Kross, Ethan, Philippe Verduyn, and Emre Demiralp. Facebook Use Predicts Declines in Subjective Well-Being in Young Adults. Plos One. N.p., Aug. 2013. Web. 19 Sept. 2013.
The Social Network. Dir. David Fincher. By Aaron Sorkin. Perf. Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake. Columbia Pictures, 2010. DVD.