SHOULD YOU TAKE A BREAK FROM FACEBOOK?
In my post about smartphones and mental health, I wrote about how technology can support your mind/body wellbeing. Today, I’m talking a little on the flip side of that: why you might need a break from Facebook.
Times are different now than a decade ago. It used to be possible to finish working for the day and go home to “unplug.” But now that we have smartphones and social media, such as Facebook, it’s possible to stay connected all day. And if you aren’t sure how to best set boundaries around that, it can be draining, especially on the soul.
Plus, there’s a strange irony about Facebook. Hundreds of “friends” are at our fingertips, and we can look into part of their lives — and let others know what’s up with us — at any moment. But studies have shown that Facebook can actually make people lonelier. Why? Well, for one, people don’t accurately portray their lives online.
Most of us only share the parts that are good in our lives — which makes sense, right? Just as we’re likely to answer a “how are you doing?” with “good” or “not too bad” even if we are struggling, we aren’t apt to highlight our problems or ask for help through a status update.
This can be a problem because we start to feel like everyone else’s lives is better than ours. We might even feel like a fraud because we only post about happy things — even if we are going through really rough times.
Forging a Healthy Relationship with Facebook
Is it possible to use Facebook in a healthy way? It is! But here are some tips to keep in mind:
Remember that most people are only posting about what’s happy and good in their lives.
Take a moment to be happy for others’ good times and wish them well in whatever they aren’t talking about — because we all have that something going on. It’s helpful to remember this because thinking that you’re the only one with problems can be isolating. Sometimes it’s good to remind ourselves that no one has a perfect life, and that’s okay.
A German study from 2013 observing 584 people showed that people were more likely to suffer emotional pain from Facebook if they were just scrolling through the feed, versus actually interacting with others. That’s kind of like being at a party but standing off by the wall because you don’t feel connected to everyone else while they’re laughing and having a good time. That wouldn’t make anyone feel welcome or happy, right?
Think about your intention while on Facebook. Do you want to reach out to your friends? Get an update on their lives? Share something that’s happening in yours? Check on an event you’re attending, or connect with others in a group? If not, perhaps it doesn’t serve you to spend your time there.
Don’t be afraid to take a break from Facebook when you need it.
Hint: if you find yourself scrolling mindlessly through the feed each day while feeling empty, lonely, or bored, it’s probably time to take a break. Facebook allows you to temporarily deactivate your account so you can “disappear” for a while and not get any notifications.
Use this time to reach out to people in real life. Take walks without your phone out. Start a morning ritual that you can do before looking at your phone or computer. Start making a list of what’s good in your life, even if you have to think about it for a while. Remember that you are not alone.
A world of ever-changing technology can be exciting, and it presents us with a lot of ways to connect with others like never before. But it’s also important to be intentional in how we connect with others — and if that includes taking a break from Facebook and focusing on ourselves and those in “real life,” there is nothing wrong with that.