Social media transforms into competition
Published: Monday, February 25, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 25, 2013 13:02
A disheveled sophomore psychology major rolls out bed. He frantically kicks through piles of dirty clothes and fast-food wrappers on his way to the kitchen. Severely parched, he takes a long slug from the milk carton, exhales in relief and wipes his unshaven lip with back of his hand. He notices the bar stamp still on his hand from the night before. It reads: SEXY. Then he catches his distorted reflection in the blank television screen across the room. “I’ve really let myself go,” he says to himself.
He considers turning on the TV or hopping in the shower. He debates brushing his teeth or putting on a pot of coffee. He remembers losing his keys last night, but figures they’ll turn up sooner or later. All these things can wait for now. First and foremost, he must log in. Feeling empty and unconnected, he scurries to the laptop and opens his Facebook page.
His eyes widen with alertness as he scrolls down the News Feed. He begins making quick, generalized assertions about the world around him. This is what he learns in 10 minutes time: Jenny had fun last night; Brad has a lame taste in music lyrics; Lauren is too hot for him; Reggie doesn’t deserve that huge truck; everyone loves Jessica; Jim and Kelsey’s baby is going to be like eight feet tall; Drew is more handsome than he is; he could take Carlos in a cage fight; Meagan and Tony are back together, like that’ll last; his best friend from high school has become way more successful than he’ll ever be; Katie wants to play Farmville; and everyone is happy. Everyone except him.
Facebook is a priceless networking tool. When email addresses, phone numbers and Snapchat are unavailable, contacting a person is always possible via Facebook. However, daily users aren’t as interested in communication as they are comparison.
Utah Valley University conducted research indicating that people are becoming depressed after viewing Facebook. A sample of 425 undergraduate students was surveyed and for those who spent the most amount of time on Facebook, depression was more likely. Why?
The students perceived that other social media users were happier and had better lives than they did. This phenomenon is known as “Facebook depression”. There is disagreement among doctors on whether Facebook depression is just an extension of pre-existing mental illness, or if social media causes depression. What is certain, however, is that online social content offers an indirect, skewed look into other people’s lives. There is no body language or facial expression to put status updates and comments into context. The pictures we analyze are usually far from candid, and only the most flattering shots grow up to be profile pictures.
It’s easy to sum up a friend’s position on the social ladder based solely on the activities viewable on their page. The reality is that we see only what others want us to see on Facebook. Sure, Christine may have been tagged in 342 pictures in eight different locations Tuesday night. She may be smiling and hugging lifelong friends in each one. But what doesn’t get uploaded is the hour she spent hugging the ladies’ room toilet, the 8 a.m. test she missed the next day, or the empty carton of cookie-dough ice cream and box of tissues lying next to her sofa.
Going out and getting rowdy is something that should be done as a reward for a hard day’s work. However, some college kids go out and party just so they can be tagged in pictures and reaffirm their worth as a socialite.
If you feel like your life is a bore based on what you see other people posting, remember this; the root of Facebook depression is envy. It all comes down to being jealous of what you perceive other people to have, whether it’s good looks, popularity, a love life, success or happiness. All of these things are relative to the person judging them.