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The Facebook Effect

Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with family and friends, but is it adding to self-esteem issues in the teenage population?

It happens more times than we like.

What starts off as spending five minutes to check your notifications easily turns into hours of reading statuses and looking at pictures on the computer screen. Our brain tells us to do homework, take a jog or do anything else productive, but our bodies just sit there looking through that one-person-you’ve-only-met-once’s homecoming photos. Like nicotine in cigarettes or caffeine in soda, there’s something about this social networking site that is extremely addicting. To get to the bottom of this question, I’ve done what few teenagers have done before: I deleted my Facebook account for two weeks.

What started off as an effort to get my college applications done became a realization. Not only do I waste incredible amounts of time on Facebook, but each status read and photo album viewed adds to confidence crashing. I like to call this phenomenon the Facebook Effect.

Of course, there are the strictly “notification-checkers” who log onto Facebook only a few times a week. To all of the “notification-checkers” in the world, you are extremely lucky, for most people are the dreaded “Facebook stalkers.” I’ll admit I have spent my fair share of weekend nights dissecting the newsfeed and aimlessly wandering from one friend’s profile to another. As a teenage race, we are naturally curious about what others are doing and unintentionally comparing them to ourselves. While this is common and normal, it is not always healthy.

For instance, scrolling through the newsfeed, you see what everyone is up to—updated relationship statuses, added photos and pretty much anything one of your friends wants to share. The problem with knowing all this information is that we compare our lives to our friends’ lives, giving us confidence crashes. The worst is the few days after a dance, such as homecoming or prom. We all spend hours looking at everyone’s dresses critiquing them in our minds and secretly either thinking that your dress was cuter or you look down upon what you wore. Facebook has us second guessing ourselves based on the fun others are having or what other people look like.

I can’t stress enough how unhealthy it is to look down upon your life based on another person’s Facebook profile. We do that enough as it is with reality television shows and celebrity magazines. It’s a thought too commonly shared, especially among teenage girls.

For example, you may look through the tagged photos of another girl in your school and think, "Wow, I really love her hair. Are they extensions? Why can’t my hair be that shiny? Man, she looks so happy in this photo. Is that her boyfriend? I wish I had a boyfriend. I think I talk too much. I bet she doesn’t talk too much. Oh my gosh, is that her car? She must be rich. No wonder she has a boyfriend."

And the thoughts go on and on.

Too much of this type of thinking can cause serious confidence crashes, and it also wastes hours of time. If you find you can’t discipline your Facebook browsing, I suggest deactivating for a while. Deactivating is when you delete your Facebook but can activate again once you type in your password. By deactivating, you can spend time living your life and not the people who come up on your newsfeed. Maybe you can even become a “notification-checker.”

Of course, Facebook has many positives as well, such as being able to keep in touch with friends and family in other states and meeting new people. Just make sure that you don’t let it take over or even worst, make you doubt yourself and your life.

The Facebook Effect has definitely swept and hit the teenage race hard. Never forget that you can control how you feel about yourself and what you spend your time doing. My advice: Be a “notification-checker” and force yourself to log off. Trust me, you will be happier.

James Baer December 01, 2011 at 12:21 PM
Very nice analysis of what would best be described as a hot-button topic.

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