Opinion: The Facebook blues: Are you feeling them too?

Christina Bucciere

Christina Bucciere

Christina Bucciere is a junior journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].

I’ll admit it: Seeing my friends’ latest photo album filled to the brim with scenes from their latest, seemingly awesome escapades while I try to think of the last time I did anything remotely exciting does stir up some gloominess. Then I tend to find myself flipping through random people’s profiles and finding out that everyone is having more fun than I am. I may be overdramatizing, but once that ball starts rolling, it’s a goner. So why do I keep going back when, most of the time, Facebook only seems to make me feel bad about myself?

Thankfully, I’ve recently found out I’m not alone in this. According to recent research from two German universities that studied a group of 600 Facebook users, it was determined that one in three participants felt worse after visiting Facebook, inducing feelings of loneliness, envy and frustration. So, at least I know I have some German friends who can relate. But now I have to admit something pretty sick. As I read this article, I simultaneously logged into Facebook like my fingers had a mind of their own. Why must I be such a masochist?

But I would be willing to bet I’m not alone. According to the American College Health Association’s survey of undergraduates across the country, 47 percent of students felt things were hopeless, 87 percent felt overwhelmed, 58 percent felt lonely, 62 percent felt sad and 32 percent even felt so helpless they could hardly function. I’m not ashamed to admit those statistics have accurately represented my own disposition at one time or another, and that I am just now realizing the negative role Facebook has played in making me, and presumably lots of other college students, feel so down.

Facebook is an agitator. If you’re already having a bad day, do you really want to see your old high school friend’s new relationship status with 79 likes and endless congratulatory comments? I think I can safely classify that as some grade-A torture. Do you ever find yourself feeling jealous of someone who received more birthday wishes than you did? What about that one “friend” who is the epitome of photogenic, forcing you to delve through all of his or her pictures and then sigh at your own inadequate photo album? Been there. It’s so unavoidable, yet so pointless.

It’s important to know that Facebook isn’t reality — it’s a marketing platform where people portray themselves in the most glamorous light possible. Dozens of potential profile pictures are taken before the perfect one makes the cut. “Friends” are added just to appear as popular as can be. Most of what we see is a clever manipulation of the truth, and I am no exception. I play right into this never-ending game, and I don’t have much to show for it besides a means of distraction from homework and some unintentional, self-inflicted feelings of inadequacy. Where’s the fun in that?

Facebook has its merits in allowing me to stay in touch with friends across the country, and sometimes it’s nice to see what they’re up to, but I suggest we safeguard ourselves from the impact it can have on our mental health. Remember to think practically about what’s really under the profile’s surface; be honest about our intentions when we log on, and reject the urges to compare our lives to others. Maybe even take some time off from that world to indulge in a healthy dose of true reality.

After all, in this chaotic and exhilarating time of self-discovery, we won’t find our answers buried in a pile of social networking profiles.