Saturday, May 19, 2012

Facebook Frustration

It's been a long day at work. I dealt with some cranky customers and some irritable co-workers. I didn't get a lot of sleep the night before, and I think that I'm beginning to catch a cold. I slump into my room and plop down on my bed, grab my laptop, and connect myself to the wifi. My finger darts across the sensor pad more like a nervous twitch than a deliberate navigation. With one tap of the finger, I am now staring at the familiar image of my homepage on Facebook. Without waiting for my command, my eyes already know what part of the page to find: the top left corner. They pinpoint a small little image in the corner of the screen. Noticing a disappointing lack of red, my heart falls. That's right, no new notifications. Yeah, you know exactly what I'm talking about. It's completely ridiculous, but you have undoubtedly experienced this sometime before in your life (unless you don't have a Facebook, in which case props to you!). It's that little indication that nobody has interacted with your internet presence that can really bring you down. But why? How completely ridiculous is that?! But it's true. Sometimes, I just wish that I could be more like Ryan Spoon... (see image below).

Now THIS guy's virtual life is bumpin'!

Why am I so obsessed with Facebook?! It has become a major hinderance to my life. I open up my laptop, and without thinking, it is the first page that I open up, regardless of when the last time I checked it was. There is something about that little shortcut up at the top of my screen that activates the muscle memory in my finger. It's not just something that I look at for one second, however. Even if there is a depressing absence of notifications, that doesn't stop me from perusing the entire newsfeed. I just scroll, scroll, scroll, until I have sufficiently stalked all of the daily (or hourly, depending on when I last checked) happenings. I spend literally HOURS on Facebook every day. EVERY STINKING DAY!

Now, you might think, hey, what's the harm in a little Facebook. It's interesting, and you are just catching up with what's going on in your friends lives. Well, is it really that harmless? I have been thinking about it, and I have come to the conclusion that Facebook can really be detrimental to anyone. Let me give you some examples to help illustrate my point.

Susie get's home from school Monday afternoon. She's not the most popular person in her grade, she is kind of shy and doesn't talk much. She signs in to Facebook, and sees that there are no new notifications. BAM. Blow to the already low self-esteem. She then continues to scroll down through the newsfeed and sees all the pictures and statuses going up from the weekend before. She happens upon a picture of the group of friends that she talks to at school. Apparently, they had all gone to the beach over the weekend, but she hadn't been invited. Strike two to the self-esteem. As she browses through all of the other pictures that people are putting up, she can't help but notice how happy they look. They all look so carefree. All of the other girls look so beautiful, and there is no lack of comments on their pictures telling them so. Why doesn't she look as pretty? She checks her own pictures, but she already knows that there is not going to be any comments on any of them, except the one that her mom had found kind of cute. And she was talking about their dog. Just like that, her whole day is ruined as she continues to scroll through the pages and profiles, hating herself more and more.

Stephanie has a similar problem. She has friends and is featured in many pictures on Facebook, but she is self-conscious about something else: her weight. It's the Monday after the warmest weekend of the year, and every time she logs in to the site, she sees picture upon picture of skimpy bathing suits showing off the toned, "sexy" bodies of her peers. She looks down at her own body and starts to cry. Now that summer was arriving, she wouldn't be able to hide under baggy sweatshirts and loose-fitting pants. She was already trying to eat less, but it wasn't the calories so much as her dang genetics that were keeping her from that perfect "beach body." She shut off her computer and promised herself she would skip dinner tonight.

Carl, a friend of Stephanie's, is also on the computer this lovely June afternoon. He heard all about a trip to the beach this last weekend, and he was kind of bummed that he wasn't able to go. Stupid job. He hops on Facebook to see what's new in the virtual world when he sees the pictures of the beach adventure. Flipping past pictures of the guys messing around, he finally stops on one just like what he was looking for. There we go. He stares at the screen in front of him, ogling at the two girls in their bikinis. I knew that Jess was pretty hot, but dang! I didn't realize what kind of body Anna has. He makes a mental note to see what she was wearing the next day at school. Maybe she would be showing a little cleavage, or those nice legs of hers. I love shorts and tank top season.

This very same Monday, Anna gets home from her shift at work after school, and she too goes on Facebook. She notices that Jessica had put up pictures from the weekend. Why did she put that one up? Doesn't she realize how skanky we look? She goes to untag herself in it, but little does she know the picture has already been saved in Carl's folder on his computer. At least I have been working out recently, I don't even look half bad. She keeps clicking through the album when she sees one that she doesn't like so much. Gross! Why did she put THIS one up? I have a gigantic roll in this picture! I look so chubby! She probably just put it up because she looks incredibly perfect. Typical. She can be such a brat sometimes. I wish I had her body. I think that she put this one up just because she looks good and I don't. What a b****! She decides that she will confront Jessica about it the following day at school.

She put that one up?!

Jessica (yeah, see how this is coming full circle?) started all of this Sunday night (or Monday morning?) at 1:00 am. Excited to put up the pictures of the weekend, she uploads each one and makes sure that she doesn't look bad in any of them before publishing them. Between the uploading and the photoshopping (because she had to make sure nobody could see that awful zit on her face!) she spent 3 hours on the whole ordeal, skipping her math homework that she had put off until that night. I'll just copy Greg's tomorrow. Finally satisfied with the now nearly flawless pictures, she hits "publish album" and goes to bed.

See all of the problems that arise? Now this is just a hypothetical, multi-perspective scenario, but all of these are no doubt really happening somewhere in the wonderful world of Facebook, and I'm sure you are already aware of most if not all of these. Now, I'm not saying that Facebook in and of itself is evil, and everyone should cancel their accounts. It wouldn't be a bad idea, but I know I could never do that. I'm simply saying that it is one of the obstacles to our happiness here in this day and age. It consumes so much time that can be spent so much more productive. If I spent the time that I do every day on Facebook in prayer, I think that I would care a lot less about what my peers thought of me, be closer with God, be more peaceful and less anxious, and I'm sure much more. Even if I didn't want to spend that time with God, if I found SOME other productive use of my time I would be better off, whether that be cleaning, doing homework, reading, talking with my friends, or anything really!

So, why doesn't everyone stop spending so much time on Facebook? Because it's so HARD! Not only that, it's addicting and habitual. And, there are some benefits with being in touch with a mass amount of people all at once. I can't delete my account. I just can't. But for now, I'm going to delete the shortcut and try to limit my time wasted on it. Like no more than 10 minutes. At a time. I think I need a little Facebook rehab.

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