Here’s the thing everyone’s talking about getting rid of Facebook(Facebook Bad For Some Peoples Mental Health the term delete Facebook has reached a five-year high on Google and a wide variety of people have deleted their Facebook pages from share to Elon musk’s companies to Playboy now this Exodus and the conversation around it is connected to the Cambridge analytical skin a company that improperly obtained the personal data of some 50 million Facebook users but for the sake of this piece not interested in privacy or even the whole fake news Russian propaganda scandal I’m interested in mental health and I wonder if Facebook is ruining our brains and crushing our souls compared to previous generations American teenagers today get out of their house less date less get laid later in life get their drivers licenses later drink less frequently and are less likely to have a job no judgments.
Live your life and actually some of these attributes have contributed to the fact that this generation of teenagers is the safest teenage pregnancies are also declining I’m sure parents love that but rates of suicide and depression among teenagers have reached historic highs many experts look at that startling fact and then look at the amount of time modern teens spend on their phones and on social media and they see a disturbing correlation Holly shocky a public health professor at UC San Diego conducted a study looking at Facebook in particular and concluded I quote Facebook was negatively associated with overall well-being associated is a key word here Facebook isn’t definitively causing a decline in well-being there’s sort of a chicken and the egg problem but the two are clearly linked Sakia hypothesized to me.
That part of the problem with Facebook is self-comparison we look at our friends and their cool vacation photos and fancy meals and big nights out and we get jealous we feel inferior and that inferiority hurts our self-esteem but the thing is Shakya pointed out to me our Facebook selves aren’t our real selves they are curated idealized versions we post pictures of our beach excursion but about the parts about sunburn and shitty parking and sand in our sandwiches so when we compare ourselves to Facebook friends were often comparing ourselves to unrealistic standards consider these tidbits from economist Seth Stephens Dave Lewis the budget Las Vegas hotels circus and the much nicer and more expensive Bellagio hotel
Hold about the same number of people but the Bellagio gets three times as many check-ins on Facebook and owners of luxury automobiles are two and a half times more likely to talk about their cars on Facebook than folks like me who ride old Honda’s bike speaking of me I just learned that the way I use Facebook is particularly bad for some peoples mental health I’m a passive user I don’t post a ton but I’m lurking several times a day researchers from facebook itself and sort of a stunning admission have said this type of behavior is bad writing in a blog post that passively consuming information can leave people feeling worse see lurkers like me
Don’t get the positive feedback of a like or a nice comment that Digital affirmation that makes us feel good we’re not engaged we’re sort of isolated so I’m just measuring myself even subconsciously against the idealized version of my friends lives many of whom I haven’t seen in a decade and have in fact ignored in real life now I think a lot of us are aware that our Facebook friends are exaggerating or at least just showing us the highlights
but Shakya told me that doesn’t seem to matter there’s a deep-seated psychological impact related to jealousy and insecurity that we can’t just rationalize our way out of little sidenote here while being exposed to our friends best of life on Facebook is associated with negative feelings one study found that looking at our own exaggerated Facebook activities makes us feel good it’s a form of self-delusion
why people often stalk themselves by the way there are studies about people who stalk their exes on Facebook that’s not so good and often results in an inability to get over the break-up leading to unreturned sexual disease ire hostility aggression and the lack of personal growth did you Facebook stock but I digress the other thing about following our friends lives on Facebook it creates more opportunities to feel left out Susan wine shank a behavioral scientist told me that humans are wired for social interaction we crave it biologically there’s an evolutionary advantage to connecting with and benefiting from others,
and that makes social exclusion really painful in fact social pain like being left out of an activity lights up the same regions of our brains as physical pain Kipling Williams a professor who studies the effects of being ostracized said this type of social pain increases anger sadness depression helplessness and feelings of unworthiness and that’s really alarming because the number of teens that feel left out has reached an all-time high to be honest I didn’t need to read all these studies or speak to all these experts to realize that Facebook was not great for my mental health I recognized it already but I couldn’t stop myself why well Facebook was designed in a way to exploit the brains chemistry Sean Parker one of the no that’s Justin Timberlake right Sean Parker one of the early investors in Facebook admitted
that Facebook exploited a vulnerability in human psychology it’s exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with this vulnerability is a lack of self-control and that in turn gets us stuck in compulsion loops we can’t break out wine shanky behavioral psychologists told me that many people have an initial positive experience on Facebook oh cool people like my post and that in turn leads them to develop a conditioned response to open Facebook it’s sort of muscle memory driven by that primitive need for socialization hardwired into our brains so we mindlessly navigate to Facebook we open it up
And that’s where a brain chemical called dopamine kicks in dopamine is sort of these sex drugs and sugar chemical it gives us urges it makes us seek out something so when I open up Facebook I get this a little dopamine hit and that leads me to keep scrolling more scrolling more dopamine more dopamine more scrolling all of a sudden I lose 10 minutes in my life and I realize oh I got to write a script but I’m gonna get a craving for dopamine again muscle memory takes over and more of my time is wasted it’s eerily similar to my consumption of empty junk food calories that offer no nourishment it’s all mindless we have created tools that are ripping apart
The social fabric of how society works that is truly where we are don’t get me wrong there are definitely benefits to Facebook maintaining friendships is associated with positive mental health and for people who are homebound like the elderly social media is an opportunity to feel like part of a community. so this Is Facebook Bad For Some Peoples Mental Health.