Resentment, anger, jealousy, distrust. Those have been sighted in a recent study as the strongest feelings among men and women when they finish using social media sites like Facebook. The same feelings were equally strong in women after leaving weddings and reunions.
Yet, we keep going back.
Social media, smart phones and services like SnapChat, the super-anonymous chat system that destroys each message you send out (more on this later), have created arenas where users hope to find small, daily emotional victories that provide validation of their importance and relevance in social settings.
Recognition, acceptance, love, friends, and “community” are the primary, small victories we seek that are delivered through validation markers such as “Likes”. This is key to understanding the basic business framework behind social media and how carefully these platforms are breaking into our homes, families, and minds by egging us on that we can have a better life if we spend more time online growing close – away from each other.
Flashback to the Facebook movie, “The Social Network” when the character Mark Zuckerberg has his “ah-ha!” moment. It was pretty simple. Let people know your “status”. This revealed Zuckerbergs genius and why Facebook is so dominant. He realized that people didn’t want to be seen as single, nor did they care if you knew they were attached. What he saw was that people wanted recognition – a theme prevalent throughout social media platforms where commenting, liking and sharing has been given real, personal clout, defining loyalties, friendships, and enemies.
Take for example the innocuous birthday.
Kids love their birthday parties. Their little friends come over and they eat and yell and pin tails on all sorts of things, and then we ship them home all sugared up and hyper. We know they had a good time because they complain about feeling sick and can’t remember a thing if asked. What’s not to love? It’s simple, face-to-face interaction that’s been a proven formula for success for thousands of years, likely.
According to the book “Envy on Facebook: A Hidden Threat to Users’ Life Satisfaction?”, Facebook interaction in birthday-form was the second most common cause of envy as users could compare how many birthday greetings they received to those of their Facebook friends and how many “likes” or comments were made on photos and postings. For many this led to sadness, feelings of low self worth and rejection.
Amazing? Only if you consider that these feelings did not exist until the birthday boy made the effort to login and then count, line by line, the amount of greetings and birthday wishes they received. Or more accurately, those they did not receive. I know many adults who feel flat-out insulted by a lack of public recognition, and I know teens who are, simply, emotionally unequipped to manage the feelings they experience during this discovery. It’s confusing because perceived rejection still feels like rejection – and rejection exists largely in our perceptions as it is. The question of reality begins to blur.
Vacation photos are the most common cause of both envy and resentment. They seem to epitomize one’s social status and further divide the “haves” from the “have nots”. This affects women more than men. According to a Humboldt University study, women look at vacation photos as “family happiness” and are more likely to make direct comparisons to their own body appearance, families and spouses.
Men generally focus on posting more self-promotion thoughts, accomplishments, or grander statements about their identity in sports, politics or business. Receiving assurance about accomplishments ranks much higher for men than feelings about their families or looks. Which, of course, goes nowhere in explaining the “selfie”.
Let me know when this starts to hurt.
Has social media made a mess of us? Kind of. “Addiction” is a word thrown around liberally when it comes to social media usage, and more than one marriage has struggled or worse due to poor use of social technology. And then there’s teens. Yep.
Generation FB And Family
That’s how many screens fight for my wife’s and my attention on a daily basis.
Quick rundown: 3 laptops, 3 smart phones, 3 tablets and 1 LCD tv (also smart). We have two kids who share 1 of the laptops where they cruise PBSkids for spelling and math games, as well as t.v. time on a daily basis. The kids share a tablet to read books and play Angry Birds if the time is right. They are young and manageable and yes, we do manage and monitor their computer time very carefully, providing strict rules and timelines. Even with seemingly innocent sites like PBSkids their impressionable minds are forming habits dependent on “screen time” vs. facetime. We want them to favor the later.
Actual cost: $4770. 10 Screens. Seriously.
This is one of the many truths for Generation FB – an overwhelming amount of screen stimulation disguised as “meaningful” time with friends, family, strangers, businesses and a larger governing body of online policy makers. Making memories. How in the hell did we make it this far as a species without SnapChat cheering us on?
What’s the next technological step in removing the human element from relationships?
When does it end?
- Over 40% of Americans prefer to chat or text vs. face-to-face or phone conversations.
- Every day Facebook users spend 10.5 billion minutes a day on the site. That’s 19,963 Years a day. (that does not include mobile users).
- Almost a third of users have missed important events in their life because they were trying to post a message to social media.
- 1 in 50 people married last year in the U.S. met on social media sites.
- 90% of social media users say that opposite-sex relationships on social media create distrust and cause the spouse to reconsider their personal, online policies.
- According to Divorce-Online, 20% of all divorce filings specifically mention Facebook as one of the reasons for ending the marriage.
- 85 percent of women are annoyed by their friends on Facebook.
- Links about sex are shared 90 percent more than any other link on Facebook.
- One-third of Facebook’s 18-34 aged female demographic check Facebook when they first wake up, even before going to the bathroom.
- Finally – 11 million young Facebook users have abandoned the site since 2011.
Although most of these stats are fun, anecdotal chunks of information, the last fact may be a welcome trend that leans pro-family, pro-relationship and pro-privacy.
Also, “LOL”ing is really not the same as actually “laughing out loud” (with people). Your ribs never hurt while “LOL”-ing, even if you do it all night long down in the basement. Which is a completely different issue.
Making It Work Screen-Free
Many Americans long for more family time but it would seem that social media is introducing an awkward, social retardation inhibiting many from forming a solid, substantive circles of peers. So here are some ideas to chew on that may bring that real-life spark back to your most valued relationships of family, friends, and crushes.
Spend time WITH your kids online – Online time with parents is associated with an increased, more intimate connection between parents and adolescents. That connection helped mediate the relationship including greater positive social behavior and lower aggression. Teens were also less likely to demonstrate anti-social behavior when parents took hands-on interest. While too much social networking may be bad for most kids and teens, cooperative, family social networking has proven to increase personal, healthy, happy family connections. (source – Brigham Young University)
Drop “Call of Duty” and bust out a board game – Call me “old school” but nothing is better for healthy social and robust interaction than a couple of hours having it out in Monopoly or Risk. The face time is invaluable and its a good time to talk about important family or friendship issues that have been pressing on you. Board games are also a great way to melt the heart of your latest crush.
Write A Letter With “Your Hand” (gasp) – In 1775 the United States started the “Postal Service” where you could mail a “letter” by way of a “horse”. Today this is still possible and it’s considered a dying art form. Don’t send a card. Write a letter. A fully hand-written page of how you feel, what you’ve been up to, and maybe spray some Axe on it to impress (LOL). Letters are thoughtful and yours will not soon be forgotten.
And probably most important – Put That Phone Down. – Guilty. Your kids will thank you. That’s all I’m going to say.
Go forth and socialize as proud humans, capable of initiating an in-person relationship from scratch, looking someone in the eye and appreciating closeness the way we were designed to do.
Find me on Facebook. 🙂