Does Facebook Make You Miserable?

Every few months I see a story headline that tells us, Facebook Is Making You Miserable/Depressed/Fat/Stupid/Impotent.

OK, I'm lying about seeing the impotent story. But I'm pretty sure I've seen something about Facebook ruining your sex life. All that updating your status with "I'm bored" is getting back to your partner.

But back to Facebook and misery. The latest round on this meme is from a writer named Daniel Gulati who says Facebook is making us miserable because when we read status updates about what people are achieving or have, we can't help but compare ourselves and then we all seethe with jealousy and go cry our eyes out.

Of course, I decided to ask my Facebook friends about this. "Read yet another article today stating that FB is making us all miserable and dissatisfied with our lives," I wrote. "Are we truly just jealous of each other's fabulous, curated existence? (Should I tell you something that's going wrong in my life so you feel better about yours?)"

The consensus was that attributing misery to Facebook is, as one friend put it, "giving Facebook too much credit."

"I am happy to know more about the goings on in my friends' lives. I'm glad to hear about people's successes, and I'm sure most of us have commiserated or consoled on bad days, too. Sounds like it was written by a jealous person," replied another--which garnered several likes and the desire to double like the comment. 

Indeed, because I am only friends with people I actually adore and consider my friends, I am happy for them when something good comes their way. I like to see what they're up to. I like to cheer for their successes and wish them well. 

I also think they know they don't have to put on a show for me so that only the shiny, bright, and new is on display. Sure, I don't post status updates for every terrible thing that happens to me, but I'm not making up good things just to impress people, either. I just think, as I shared with my friends, "it would help if we all had a better understanding of the role of tests and difficulties in our lives."  

I know that for every bit of happiness someone is experiencing, there is also something that they've gone through (or are currently going through) that has caused them immeasurable grief and suffering. Because that's life. Sky high one day and rock bottom the next.

OK, real talk, I was HORRIBLY jealous when one of my friends posted that his job now has an unlimited vacation policy. Damn. Damn. Damn! He still has to get his work done, obviously, but if he wants to take however long off, he can. AAAGGHHH! 

But that jealousy is on me, isn't it? I certainly didn't feel the need to one-up him by posting "Oprah's adopted me and made me her heir!" 

The only Facebook + miserable in a story headline I want to see is, "Is the New Facebook Timeline Making You Miserable?" Sigh. That wish won't come true, will it? I'd bet good money that the Facebook is ruining your life story won't go away anytime soon.

Photo via  (cc) Flickr user Sean MacEntee


Bronwyn said…
it is weird to me too! It's just a tool - it could be "Telephones are making you miserable" - or any other method of communication.
Liz Dwyer said…
LOL! Yeah, folks can just as easily update you about what's going on their life via phone.
Miss Leliel said…
You know, I agree, I don't think it's true as a general rule. But, I consistently see patterns in which of my friends seem genuinely excited for my good fortune, and others who are notably absent (their enthusiasm lacks in real life, too) -- and those are some of my best friends IRL. I think, we are of course dealing with real people, so there are going to be people who are sad or mad at themselves that they don't have the same opportunities as someone else. Not that they hate the person for it, but they are so sad they can't do the same, that they have trouble being happy for someone who can.
Toni Campbell said…
Facebook doesn't do that for me, but I will admit that sometimes I stay away from Twitter for that reason. I follow way more strangers on there and if I'm feeling a certain way, all their positive tweets can make me feel a certain way. I guess I'm a hater. lol
Liz Dwyer said…
Miss Leliel,
So true that the people who aren't excited for you in real life won't be excited for you virtually. It is hard when people are suffering from depression or feel stuck.

You are NOT a hater. Folks do a LOT more posturing on Twitter because it's so public. Just remember, ain't no future in your frontin'--no matter where it's going down. ;)

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