I am a self-admitted Facebook addict. I don't play Farmville, I don't bombard my friends with FourSquare links about where I'm eating, and I honestly don't update my status messages that much either. But I will admit that I do spend an unhealthy amount of time clicking back to my tab with Facebook open on it, craving to see more of those red notification icons, and hoping that someone out there in the world wide web has remembered I exist.
It does sound pathetic, but it's actually much more common than you think.
We're all celebrities on the internet, because everyone can see our personal information, photos, videos, likes and dislikes, and where we have just checked into. As a result we begin to forget to connect with people socially outside of the internet, because we become the proverbial center of attention online. Sharing overload has in turn effected us internally, and recent studies have shown that Facebook addictions have increased depression in individuals who are spending too much time seeing what everyone else is doing.
Believe me, I understand how important it is to keep up with the people in your life, especially those who we don't see much or live far away. Big things get posted to Facebook; a few weeks ago two of my friends got married in a private ceremony with just their immediate family, and then proceeded to let everyone else know by posting the wedding album and changing their status to 'married'.
I understand not wanting to be left out of the loop, but that's the exact feeling that kept me coming back to refresh my feed page.
I was home from work, had no plans for the evening, and instead would spend the next few hours checking out my favorite internet sites and constantly hoping Facebook would bestow me some glimmer of change or good news. Instead, I found myself looking through "friends'" recently posted concert photos or status updates about an awesome new job.
Part of me began to resent the people in my life for their accomplishments and achievements. The other part of me began to consider myself as a supreme loser; I've never been backpacking through Europe, I don't go out to the bar with a posse of friends, and I have no recent evidence of a killer concert I went to.
Facebook can become a vacuum for self esteem, and I'm not making this up. Just try googling 'Facebook Addiction Depression' and you'll see that others are struggling, with additional tips on how to break the cycle of negative feelings.
Being proactive is a great way to pull yourself out of the emotional slump, and it's nice to discover there's a real world out there. So here are five things I chose to do the other day instead of logging into Facebook:
While I have no gym membership or iPod to speak of, I decided to put on some sneakers and work-out clothes, and I walked all around my neighborhood. I agree, working out seems daunting, I am less inclined to do sit-ups than you'd believe. However, walking is a great start, but trying out Zumba classes or Yoga is also a great way to get those endorphins pumping and helping to build a strong body.
Write a letter or a card!
I wrote a get well card for a friend's mum (mum because they're British), letting her know I was thinking of her and I hoped her a swift recovery.No one really gets mail anymore unless it's a bill, and it's really nice to get something more personal. When you're feeling down and lonely, grab a paper and pen and write someone a thank-you card and a good old fashioned letter asking them how they are. One of my friends bought a type writer for that exact reason, because he missed getting letters in the mail and chose to start writing his friends the old fashioned way. It'll reconnect you with others in a more genuine way than any wall post ever could.
Try baking or cooking!
My coworker from the vintage store I work at left for a position at a magazine, and on his last day I baked him his favorite cookies as a farewell present.Some of you may not feel super confident in the kitchen, and I'm no wizard either. But something simple, like baking cookies can feel really rewarding. So bake something for a friend, or invite people over to try your first attempt at tiramisu.
Be in nature!
If I'm really sad, the best thing I can do is to go sit under a tree somewhere. I know that is a bit more difficult for those who live in a city, but if you can find somewhere by trees, grass, or water; take some time to just sit and relax. The chaos is your head can fizzle out into the open air and get blown away with the breeze.
Take a class or join a club!
Three years ago, I began showing up at 'Swing Night' at a coffee house in upstate NY. I've been swing dancing ever since, and I think it was the best decision I made for my social life. Whether pottery, fencing, beer tasting, or kayaking is your thing, joining others in a communal activity forces you to be social. Not only does it help you become less introverted, but you spend more time out of the house.
I'm not advocating you give up Facebook completely. But try to remember the important things in your life, and keep strong connections with people outside of the internet. Most importantly, be happy. That's what life is really about.
How much time do you spend on Facebook? Do you know anyone who has a Facebook addiction?