Speaking of smartphones…
I was sure that when I got an iPhone, I would become more organized and efficient. After all, I would be using iCloud to sync all of my photos, contacts, notes, appointments, etc. with my computer, iPad, and phone. To my dismay, the overwhelming selection of apps and games available have contributed to a bit of dawdling on my part; Words with Friends and Scramble are a constant source of both distraction and entertainment, often taking from other priorities. I am sure many share my sentiments, but here’s an article written by my sister-in-law Cynthia Haddad, with a slightly different take. Comment, and let’s open this up for discussion if you wish.
I will be posting articles on emotional/spiritual and overall lifestyle enhancement in the ” Views and Voices” category of this blog. If you have an article you would like to post. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment and I will get back to you.
Cynthia Haddad’s Article:
The Facebook Problem
Social networking, they say, is the way of the future. The Internet, e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram… we couldn’t escape virtual media if we hid under a rock. These various forms of virtual communication offer quick and easy satisfaction, with an ever-changing nature allowing for constant excitement and entertainment. I believe that there is a downside to this existing and growing trend and that it is, unfortunately, rearing its head most in the younger generations. Through my own experience and through hearing others’ stories, I have come to a realization that usage of these many types of online media contributes to a real lack of self-confidence and a tendency toward self-scrutiny and comparison with young people.
At first I thought it was just I. It was just I who was feeling really low when signing off of Facebook after scrolling through other people’s pictures. Worse than I had felt before signing on and by worse I mean unconfident, degraded, and unhappy. These feelings were not blatantly punching me in the face and putting me into a severe depression, but they were present enough for me to notice a shift in my mood.
But, why? What about Facebook left me feeling upset? Perhaps it was the friend requests, or lack thereof, that had me comparing myself to friends who had more than I. Or maybe it was looking through a friend’s photo album for pictures of me that I thought looked good and worthy of the ever-important “profile pic,” which everyone would see; I know I was definitely searching for those pictures of me that I thought were not good enough for people to see and that in turn led me to beg my friend to delete those “bad” photos. It could have even been the “Honesty Box,” which some may remember allowed people to share their secret feelings- good and bad- about you anonymously. Whatever the specific reason was though, I knew how it made me feel and one year ago I decided to delete my Facebook.
Fast-forward a year and we find the emergence of the popular Instagram application. Now, who with an iPhone has not heard of Instagram? It is an application especially designed for smart phones that allows one to post pictures with desired enhancing effects for friends, or “followers,” to see. The application gives users the opportunity to request and accept followers and to comment on, and “like” photos.
When I first got the iPhone I downloaded Instagram. At the start, I found it fun and entertaining. But not after long did I start to feel those same feelings as I felt when I had a Facebook account. Again, I was spending my time looking through other people’s pictures in a way that made me upset. Only, this time I realized it was not just I. Upon overhearing some younger family members discussing how many “likes” they had on a picture, who “liked” their pictures, and how many followers they and other various kids had, I knew there was an obsessive aspect involved and that it effects many of its users.
Social networking gives people an opportunity to compare themselves to others based on superficial things. For those involved, often times “likes” on a picture turns into how many people actually “like” you, while virtual “friends” and “followers” turn into how many real-life actual friends you have. I have heard comments like, “Why did you un-follow me?” which I took to mean, “What don’t you like about me that you do not want to see my pictures anymore?” This leads to the obsession with cropping, fixing, editing, enhancing and perfecting pictures before posting so that others will like and comment on. The better the picture, the more “likes,” the more “followers,” and the more “friends.”
I do not believe it is these virtual “friends” that we need. Is it actually a confidence booster when you gain a follower or a friend? Maybe for a short while. But face it. You are really focusing on those who don’t follow you. Why don’t you follow me! What do I have to do to have more followers than people I am following? It must be tiring, spending all that effort in constant worry about what other people think about you. Comments such as, “Did you see how many “likes” she got on her picture?” serve to depict the sad truth that our attention is being diverted to other people instead of ourselves.
We spend so much time scrutinizing other people’s pictures, comments, “likes,” and amounts of friends all the while rejecting the person who really needs all of that attention- ourselves. We need inner focus- not the kind that makes us enhance and change the photos we post in order to see what others feel about us, but the kind that allows us to think about our own actions, characteristics, and insecurities and to find ways to better them. And sadly enough, the younger generation is seeing so much technological advancement before they are mature enough to understand concepts like self-confidence, security, and independence. This generation of children is getting hit the hardest. They do not have the opportunity to know what it means to allow attention for their own lives because they are being bombarded with the publicized lives of others.
Now I do not want to disregard the many advantages of these forms of social media, nor do I seek to condemn those who use it and enjoy it. I simply suggest, for those interested, to think about how social networking is affecting you. If you believe it is negative or even if you don’t and are curious, then perhaps you could try clicking delete. Experiment. You do not need to delete every virtual account you have, nor does it have to be permanent, but it could be nice to see how you would react without regular updates on your friends’ lives. I must add that I have not done any research on the topic and this is not based on science, but I figured that if I felt this way in regard to Facebook and Instagram, I am likely not alone.
I deleted my Instagram account two weeks ago and I have most definitely seen a positive change for a less judgmental and more confident person as a result.