Rage and joy over Facebook. “If we are moody, we are artfully moody”

bye Facebook by Crenshaw Communications

One of my best friends exclaimed that he might delete his Facebook account in the nearest future. He was impressed by an article The Anti-Social Network: by helping other people look happy, Facebook is making us sad. In this article Libby Copeland draws attention to the fact that Facebook makes people’s lives miserable. She argues that people post only positive images of their life on Facebook and share the pictures, so that others will “like” them. All this creates an illusion that everyone has a life full of positive emotions. Since people are generally jealous and think that everyone else is happier than they are it all leads to the dissatisfaction and moodiness. Here are some extracts from the article:

By showcasing the most witty, joyful, bullet-pointed versions of people’s lives, and inviting constant comparisons in which we tend to see ourselves as the losers, Facebook appears to exploit an Achilles’ heel of human nature. And women—an especially unhappy bunch of late—may be especially vulnerable to keeping up with what they imagine is the happiness of the Joneses.

According to a recent study out of the University of Texas at Austin, while men are more likely to use the site to share items related to the news or current events, women tend to use it to engage in personal communication (posting photos, sharing content “related to friends and family”). This may make it especially hard for women to avoid comparisons that make them miserable.

These passages unintentionally degrade women, making them look dumb and not that smart compared to men. Moreover Libby relies on the results of one academic study, thus making the article more credible. However the study uses more neutral tone in comparing the differences between male and female behavior on Facebook:

[…] there are some interesting distinctions among young Facebook users. For example, women and men use the platform but often in different ways. Women, when compared to men, are much more likely to use Facebook to communicate about or share content related to friends and family. Men, by contrast, are much more likely to communicate about or share content related to pop culture, the news, or current events.

That all might be true for the chosen sample of 900 people. It might also be the case for the particular US University, but what about the rest of the world? I assume the picture might change if someone analyzed the use of Facebook by let’s say Iranian community or even more up-to-day: Egyptian. Nowadays my Facebook news feed is all about protests and demonstrations in Egypt. A lot of my friends have a need to share news, videos and images about the events in Egypt; not only males, but females as well.

Another article in The Guardian informs that Facebook disconnects people and does not contribute to socialization and offline interactions, that people are losing the sense of reality.
It became sort of popular to criticize Facebook and all social networking sites. In this regard I don’t really share the Libby’s view on Facebook, the article seems to be highly unbalanced and represents only one side of the story. In this article Libby did not mention any positive impact of Facebook, but only its criticism, this would not be totally fair. Facebook is not that evil as it might seem after this article, there are many useful things it can provide people with.

People still can participate in lives of friends who live abroad and see what’s new in their lives. The newsfeed might become a source of the international and political news: people share articles and videos which I particularly would not find on my own. I assume that Facebook expands the boundaries and connects people from various countries thus promoting tolerance to various cultures.

However there is another example of woman who posted a suicidal note on her Facebook and her friends did not react accordingly. The woman died and people started talking of indifference on Facebook. But are there any stories in the news on the successful use of Facebook, or Facebook helping people in critical situations?????? The answer is “no”. This might happen due to the fact that a positive story like this will not get this much of attention and no one will discuss it after all, whereas the death of a woman and the Facebook indifference is something shocking and people talk about it. Sure it is horrible that her friends did not take an action. I personally asked for help on Facebook several times and my friends were always there for me in my critical situations; they were always checking on me and worried if I was fine. Due to my Facebook posts they knew that something was wrong and they were trying to help me in off-line mode. Why don’t we see these stories? Why we discuss only the negative aspects of Facebook? There is always the other side to every story.

Besides that it is not the fault of Facebook that people are sad after using it. It all depends on our perception and understanding that this Facebook life is something artificial which does not necessarily exist in off-line mode. It is all relative after all…

Written by Masha Egupova

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