Professor Patrice Fleck
College Composition I
19 November 2013
When I first moved to America, my life was boring. However, thanks to Facebook, I was able to remain in touch with my close friends in Vietnam. In time, I became addicted and could not spend less than two hours a day on this social network. To be honest, it has had a bad influence on me. After conducting research on Facebook’s disadvantages, I think that we, as adolescent girls, should limit our time on Facebook because social media damages our relationships, fosters jealousy, and negatively affects our sense of personal identity.
First of all, it is hard to nurture relationships on Facebook as every friend of ours judges our posts differently. Not to mention strangers we have befriended, the chances are that many people are never truly interested in our personal life. They are likely to provide us with social support in times of need, but it is probably insincere and superficial. At the other extreme, they can invade our privacy by researching and poring through every detail of our history.
What is worse, Facebook affects our romantic relationships as well. Those who share plenty of intimate photos risk decreasing the closeness in their relationships (“Study”). Additionally, according to recent research from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Facebook disagreements contribute to lower relationship satisfaction. The most common conflicts are whether one should display partnered status and whether one should show one’s partner in one’s avatar. In short, “[our] relationship status is no longer a private agreement between [our partners and us], but rather a public display broadcasted to all of [our] “friends” (Muise).
Unfriending on Facebook is another concern since anyone can now officially end a friendship with a click of a button. When someone we regard as a good buddy suddenly decides to terminate the relationship and silently unchecks us as a friend without explaining why, it is challenging to cope with the pain. The break is usually not mutual. It hurts as much as face-to-face rejection, especially if we, the unfriended, spend a significant amount of time on this social network, and if “the cause had something to do with [our] own Facebook sins such as over-sharing, posting about polarizing topics, and making crude comments” (Whitbourne). Repairing broken relationships is definitely never easy, yet Facebook adds fuel to the flames.
While Facebook helps us to keep up with the latest news, at the same time, it provokes envy. Well-chosen photos, well-written statuses and impressive profiles make it seem like our friends, family and acquaintances are constantly having a wonderful time. We simply cannot stop comparing the jobs we have, the restaurants we go to, or the food we eat. We may even unconsciously imitate them so as to fit in. We upgrade our smartphone, watch the latest movie or read a newspaper article for no good reason. Part of the reason is the natural human tendency to desire what we can’t have; another part is that we endeavor to “[create] and [share] the life we want people to think we live” (Lammersen). Unfortunately, little do we realize that we ourselves boast, exaggerate and embellish on Facebook too.
Some may argue that Facebook praise enhances our self-confidence and boosts feelings of self-worth; nonetheless, pretending to be perfect lowers our self-esteem (Shea). This is absolutely true in my case. I was by no means confident two years ago, but Facebook made me less timid. With a background in marketing, I easily built a strong personal brand. My online friends had no idea that I was as ugly as a toad. They not only admired everything about me but also endlessly encouraged me along the way. I loved them. Any comments of theirs were deeply appreciated, and words cannot express how grateful I felt. It was then that I ignored the real world that I am living in and became a Facebook addict. I aim for the number of likes and my mood depends greatly on it. I check Facebook all the time, wondering how people react to my posts. I delete any statuses that few people care about. I dress up and put makeup on only to take new gorgeous profile pictures, which undoubtedly need to be professionally edited before being published. Now and again, I feel ashamed for being insincere and superficial. I struggle with negative thoughts. I am learning that gaining the approval of others is a fickle target, and that hiding weaknesses means I have not fully accepted myself. Psychologist Craig Malkin explains, “Part of the way we develop a strong sense of self and identity is by being known and known by others — appreciated. They see who we are, and they value who we are, including our flaws” (qtd. in Shea). Therefore, much as I desire to belong, I must learn to be myself and love myself unconditionally. It is sad but true, there are no shortcuts in life. To improve self-esteem, we should set realistic expectations and accomplish attainable goals, not self-promote on Facebook.
From an unbiased point of view, whether Facebook does more harm than good or not is uncertain. It depends on a lot of factors, such as our gender, our age and our usage to name but a few. Facebook obsession leads to jealousy, makes us feel less content with our lives and keeps us from strengthening our relationships, but no one develops Facebook dependency on purpose. Overcoming Facebook addiction is, no doubt, a huge challenge. If we fail to turn away from the most popular social network in America, we should at least be informed of its possible disadvantages, be honest about our feelings, and look critically at our behaviors. Then when we question the true value of Facebook, we can look to ourselves for the answer.
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Lammersen, Rebecca. “Please Don’t Envy Me: The Facebook Status Everyone Should Read.” Huffpost Healthy Living. TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc., 10 Apr. 2013. Web. 13 Nov. 2013.
Muise, Amy. “Are We Facebook ‘Official’?” Science of Relationship. N.p., 30 Mar. 2013. Web. 13 Nov. 2013.
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“Study: Posting Facebook Photos Negatively Impacts Real-Life Relationships.” CBS DC. CBS Local Media, 10 Aug. 2013. Web. 13 Nov. 2013.
Whitbourne, Susan K. “Unfriended? Five Ways to Manage Online Rejection.” Psychology Today. Sussex Directories, Inc., 19 June. 2012. Web. 13 Nov. 2013.