How Facebook Makes You Sad

Facebook is probably the most impressive technological advancement in the history of mankind. By taking advantage of the unparalleled connectedness of the internet, Facebook has become the ultimate tool of social interaction. One can put their whole lives on their Facebook page. In fact, it is more or less encouraged. The switch-over to the yearbook-style Facebook came about in part because it encourages users to put up their life story on facebook. You’ve got pictures and life events that start from birth and are broadcast today. Even major life events that took place before the advent of Facebook can be put in after the fact.

Above: Major life event.

Besides keeping us from studying night after night, what could this wonderful invention possibly do that would be of negative consequence?

What if it made us all depressed?

It turns out that Facebook is a fountain of sadness for America. Research at Sanford University has yielded some interesting information that points to this as being a serious possibility. It’s been found that people become more sad if they think they are alone in their sadness. Facebook directly contributes to this tendency on an unprecedented scale.

Look around on people’s pictures and their statuses. Generally, people post pictures that reflect good times and happy people. Likewise, statuses and public posts are more likely to be optimistic and happy. We all like our Facebook to reflect the best of us. We can’t control all the ups and downs in our lives, but on Facebook, we can choose to show the ups while declining to mention the downs.

Why does this matter?

It matters because when people are sad and they go on to Facebook, all they see are happy people. Instead of cheering people up, it has the reverse affect. Suddenly someone who is sad feels like they are the only person who is sad. They look around Facebook and everyone’s life seems better than theirs. Consciously, one could rationalize that people on Facebook have the same ability to feel as sad as they do, but sub-consciously they will compare how their life is to how their Facebook friends’ lives look.

When we are entirely honest with ourselves we can recognize that our Facebook lives are a lot better than our real lives. Your photo albums aren’t filled with pictures of the inside of your cubicles, they are filled with pictures from your vacation to the Grand Canyon. Why? Because that is what you want your friends to see, it’s what you want to remember, and it’s what you would rather have reflect you than what actually does.

Jeeze, this is kind of depressing. On the plus side, there is one thing that always cheers people up on Facebook:

Having a bunch of your friends click this button on anything you write.

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