I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I think it can offer a lot of value. It is a great way to reconnect with old friends and to stay in touch with people you don't see often. It's great for businesses and getting the word out. It's great for developing a brand. It's great for news distribution and staying current. It offers a lot, if used appropriately.
I also believe, like anything else, when it's not used in moderation, it becomes harmful. In addition, if your personality isn't equipped just right, I believe it can mess with you, without you even realizing it. It somehow manages to quietly infiltrate into your deepest insecurities and can even hold you back from sufficiently growing.
For me, Facebook is like immersing yourself in a crowd of people. Now, if you love crowds, okay, maybe you can handle Facebook better than I can. I'm personally not a fan of crowds. They deplete me. I have a low tolerance for them. I can handle a certain period of time and then I'm done. It's as if my energy stores are just drawn out, or maybe I just draw in the negative energy that circulates through them. I don't know, but I do know I recognize my limitations and I plan accordingly.
So, imagine yourself walking thru a crowd. Now granted, most are perfect strangers, but you are still observing, taking it in, watching facial expressions, catching pieces of conversations. You briefly assess just a snapshot of each person you pass.
Facebook is a crowd. It's just not a crowd of perfect strangers. You may know them well, or you may only have met them once, but generally you have some recognition of who they are, even if it's only surface level. In any case, whether it's in a crowd, or in a post, you aren't seeing the whole story, only a glimpse.
You don't know that before they posted that picture of their child going off to the first day of school, tears were shed. Their child didn't want to put their pants on. They wanted to wear a dirty shirt. They didn't want to eat their cheerios. They cried about not getting chocolate milk for breakfast.
It is possible that their child was an angel and offered up complete cooperation. I'm not saying there aren't people out there who have those kind of children. It happens. I think. Those days were rare for me.
That's the point. You don't know. You are given one image and you complete their story. We "assume" the rest of their story. We "assume" that the picture captured the whole morning and it was perfect. We "assume" that they have a perfect life and they are the perfect parent. We assume that they must be doing better than you at parenting. I didn't see any stains on their kid's shirt. Their kid didn't look like they were just physically forced to wear pants.
And that's how the comparison trap begins. You don't even know you are doing it. You are just admiring cute "first day of school" photos, questioning your parenting skills in the back of your mind. You are just looking at that happy couple married for 40 years and still doing great. You don't even know you just painfully remembered that you will never have that long history with one person, after muddling thru a painful divorce.
You are just looking at renovation pictures, wishing you had the money to redo your kitchen. You are watching people on vacation, wishing you were there. You are watching people eat yummy food, that suddenly you want. Or they are making cute crafts, that you don't have enough talent to make yourself. And don't even get me started on all the news posts that point us to Armageddon.
Listen. I'm not saying we should all just end Facebook and stay off of it. I'm just saying you need to become aware at how it makes you feel when you are on it. It can be a growth tool, or it can stifle you. Maybe you've got a healthy grip on it. I applaud you if so! Maybe you aren't as bat crap crazy as I am. Maybe you don't suffer from perfectionism. Maybe you don't ever compare or envy or fight these battles in your head. I'm happy for you! I really am (and, since we are being honest, a little jealous, or a lot jealous).
I'm just suggesting to use Facebook carefully. Are you on it because you are bored and afraid to sit alone with your thoughts? Are you looking for approval by putting up a post and waiting for all the likes? Do you lose track of time when you get on it? Do you feel better or worse after you spend an hour scrolling thru your feed? Do you have a strong inclination to indulge in it repeatedly throughout the day? If so, that's the definition of addiction and it means Facebook has a hold on you.
If you can handle it, by all means, scroll away. If not, be intentional about your time on Facebook, and recognize your need for crowd control. I personally limit myself. I stay on purpose. Without purpose, comparison creeps in.
Facebook, like everything else, is great, if used in moderation and if used with intention. It has great power to inspire others, while also keeping us connected to each other. It also has great power to absorb hours of your time, deplete your energy and hold you back from living YOUR best life, not the life someone else has posted.
Angela Miller is a Professional Life Coach passionately pursuing her purpose to help others remember who they are and how to become their best self. For more information, visit www.soaringforward.com.