Is your Facebook newsfeed making you unhappy? Do you log on to connect but end up feeling isolated, envious or guilty? You're not alone. There are several ways Facebook can make you less satisfied with your life.
Here are just a few of the ways your Facebook newsfeed may be contributing to your bad mood.
1. You keep toxic people in your life
There's a reason why some people are only in your life for a season. They don't contribute to your growth or happiness and may even be toxic. In theory, it should be easy to distance yourself from these people. In practice, with social media being such a pervasive force in our lives, it's sometimes impossible.
If you make the mistake of friending someone toxic on Facebook, you're inviting them to judge every picture and status update you post. If they're a critical, tactless or unkind person, do you really want their opinion on everything you do?
Even if you aren't friends with someone on Facebook, your mutual connections mean you might still be exposed to their opinion regularly.
2. The ex factor
In real life we know stalking an ex is unhealthy, creepy and maybe even illegal. On Facebook it is completely undetectable and very tempting.
It's also very destructive. What do you expect your ex to post on Facebook? Their darkest thoughts and worst fears? No, they'll post happy family pics, in jokes with people who used to be mutual friends, and, sooner or later, a photo of them with their new partner.
It's no surprise when someone ends up getting jealous over an ex, but some Facebook users also start to feel envious of their closest friends. Facebook lives are perfectly crafted. No one posts their worst pictures or openly discusses their epic fails. On graduation day, or exam results day, no parent hops on Facebook to announce a string of mediocre results or a failure to graduate.
At least one study suggests that passive users of Facebook, who use the site to observe rather than interact, are even more likely to feel envy towards their Facebook connections.
So what if Marcy posted a pic of the perfect heart-shaped cookies she put in her kid's lunch box for Valentine's day? Does it matter that you threw together a very ordinary lunch for your kid and almost forgot to even wish her happy Valentine's day?
Maybe it does. Maybe it doesn't. But unless you've pulled off the perfect holiday celebrations for everyone concerned, you're rarely going to log on to Facebook on a holiday without seeing at least one extra thing you should have done but didn't.
"Keeping up with the Joneses" is a phrase that refers to the pressure we all feel sometimes to compete with our neighbors.
That's because it used to be mainly our neighbors that we felt the need to keep up with. It was only our neighbors we saw every day. If they got a new car or kitchen, we knew all about it, because they were right there, next door, in our faces.
Now we can see all our friends' new cars or kitchens, up close, from the best angle, with a filter. It's easy to get competitive and want to over stretch financially, but why? Just so you too can post a carefully filtered Facebook picture to impress people you never see?
6. Not getting the responses you want
If you're feeling down, you may want to tell the world and have them offer you support and comfort. But Facebook can be the very worst place to do that. Some people get uncomfortable with negativity and tend to just keep scrolling. Those who do respond are sometimes just looking for drama and gossip.
There's no substitute for turning to a trusted friend or relative when you're feeling down. Facebook can make you feel that if telling one friend is good, telling everyone is better, but it doesn't work like that.
So do you have to avoid Facebook altogether? Of course not. Just be aware of how it's affecting you. Use it to interact and connect, not just to observe what everyone else is doing. And limit your exposure. Make time to simply get off Facebook and enjoy your family instead. Keep it in moderation, and connect with real people in the real world every chance you get.