Shout Out - 7th March

It’s being spoken about a lot in the news at the moment and evidence is growing that Facebook is starting to have a negative impact on some people’s lives. Solicitors are reporting 25% of divorces are being blamed on Facebook. Counsellors say that relationships are breaking down because loved ones are spending too many hours on line and jobs have been lost when employers have read employees Facebook accounts.

Psychologists reckon that we act with less boundaries and guard when we are on Facebook. Even the shyest person acts bolder and more confidently when on Facebook because it is a free space where you are able to say anything you like and it appears that there is nobody there to make you behave in a certain way.

People are also more likely to say more shocking or stronger opinionated things than they might do away from the web as we all like to shock, raise attention to ourselves and to be liked. Think back to the times when you have posted something funny and you have enjoyed it when people have ‘liked’ your post, then the times when you have felt disappointed when nobody has ‘liked’ your posts. Funnily enough, some psychologists have said that that people who use Facebook the most, are more likely to have low confidence and self-esteem and being ‘liked’ is an instant way to feel better online, as are the numbers of friends which come to some as a confirmation of popularity and status. But at what cost is this all coming? Are you spending more time on Facebook than seeing your friends?

Psychologists have also warned that Facebook is changing us to behave more selfishly like ‘attention –seekers’. They ask, would we really say ‘look at me’ doing this or that without feeling ‘big headed’ or a little bit silly when you are out with your friends, so why are we saying it on Facebook? It is definitely easier to post something on Facebook than it is to say to someone’s face. And, when you are spending too much time on Facebook, then there could be the risk that you are not spending enough time in real social situations to learn how to handle certain situations where you have to make those comments face to face to people. Okay, so Facebook may indeed create problems to us all, but how would we know if we are becoming addicted to it and what is an addiction?

An addiction is where you are unable to stop doing something even if it is affecting your work, responsibilities, relationships or social life. We know that some people get addicted to smoking weed as it gives them a psychological feeling of wellbeing and not doing it makes people unhappy when they feel that they have to do it to get through all situations in life. Being addicted to Facebook is the same as an addictive drug habit as it starts to cost time, relationships, the loss of money (if you are neglecting your work due to it) and effects study and mental health. It also gives people a sense of a ‘high’ and pleasure which is then missed when the user is not on Facebook. So, for those of you who are clocking in hours plus on Facebook a day, consider keeping yourself in control by reducing your Facebook time gradually with the aim of getting down to a reasonable time which allows you to do your work, study and have friendship and socialising time away from the computer. Do this by looking at a typical day and calculating how many hours you spend on work, study, socialising and compare it to hours spent on Facebook . If your Facebook time is taking up more time than socialising or any other important thing in your life, then you need to consider changing this and making your non internet socialising time equal, if not more than your Facebook time. A new hobby or spending time with new people or different groups of friends each day may also help to distract you too.

l If you would like to talk to me about further about this issue then, please do contact me at askjuliet@live.co.uk