The Dangers of Social Media (Part 3)

Social media can help us connect with friends and loved ones, but beware of the Facebook Delusion.

This is the third article in a series on the dangers of social media. In the first two articles, we looked at how a dependence on electronic communications can impair out ability to read social cues and how it can createsocial media miscommunication. Today, I want to address what I call the Facebook delusion.

Human beings have always tended to compare themselves with other human beings. Whether we like it or not, we measure ourselves by those around us. We compare our possessions, our relationships and our life circumstances with others. Unfortunately, these comparisons often impact our moods and our perceptions of life.

The problem with this is that many Facebook users have exceptional, extraordinary, wonderful lives. At least it seems that way. People post photos of their amazing vacations, exceptionally loving spouses and general good fortune. And of course, all their children are well above average.

Far too many people read these posts and conclude that their lives are sadly deficient. Their reactions may be jealousy, anger, depression or lowered self-esteem. They wonder why their circumstances can’t be so good. They question what they have done wrong.

In the days prior to social media, a similar phenomenon occurred at Christmas. People would drive by houses decorated for Christmas, and imagine that Perry Como was roasting chestnuts in their fireplace. This was one of many factors that increased the incidence of holiday depression. holidays.

The perception wasn’t true then, and it’s not true now. Such comparisons are false. We all have lives filled with good and bad. It rains on everyone’s parade at times. Your friends on Facebook are just celebrating their good times. It doesn’t mean they don’t have hardships just like you.

Of course, there are also many positive aspects of social media. Facebook allows us to connect with family and friends. Other social media like Skype and Google Hangouts give us video calls so we can see loved ones while talking with them. Twitter, Linkedin and Instagram provide instant connection. We can share life events with those we love. We can feel a bit closer to those who live far away.

So, when you are tempted to compare your life to the posts on social media, remember the Facebook delusion. Remind yourself that your friends experience good and bad times just like you. Congratulate your friends on their good times, support them in their bad times, and enjoy the ability to connect.

I'm a psychologist, who helps people who have sustained self-esteem wounds from past negative experiences, overcome those wounds and experience a more positive self-worth, so they can live more joyful and satisfying lives.