Nowadays Facebook has become so common.
If you’re like me, you will always find people out there who have logged into their FB accounts at least once a day. It might be the first thing you check upon waking up, or something you peek at when bored at work. Heck, advertising in Facebook could even be your work.
This leads psychologists to formulate the internet paradox of our generation. Access to the internet and social media has become so widespread that we begin to question if it’s really doing us good. Does the erection of social media and other sites really help us connect and reduce loneliness? Or does it alienate us from the real relationships we so crave?
My bias would have to go the former. I believe when used right, the internet and social media sites can be marvelous tools that enhance everything we do. Particularly, Facebook has made chatting, commenting, and sharing photos with people a few clicks away.
In this article, I’m going to convince you that Facebook helps connect us to our friends most of the time. Also, rest assured I am not being paid by FB to write this.
Loneliness meets Facebook
Long have studies connected prolonged internet usage with loneliness and social ineptness. You can picture out the prototypical nerd playing online games all day, or creepy old men gawking at women’s FB accounts.
In fact, one major study by Dr. Song and colleagues analyzed 18 studies to see how loneliness and FB usage related to each other. Does FB make you lonely? Or is it the other way around, and we use FB when we’re lonely?
Surprise surprise. The answer is apparently the latter, and offline loneliness makes us tune into Facebook more. I also think we do this for a good reason, because Facebook really does help us connect with friends. In short, tuning into FB can be healthy coping.
The exception: motives matter
Facebook may or may not contribute to your well-being depending on your reason for using it. This was eloquently revealed in a study by Dr. Teppers and peers.
They wanted to know how Facebook motives affected loneliness in adolescents. Apparently, teens that used FB for bonding and meeting new friends became less lonely. Unsurprisingly, there was a group that used FB to compensate for their lack of social skills in real life.
They later discovered that FB use actually made these teens more lonely in the long haul. I believe this pattern applies not only to teens, but adults as well.
Of course, there are other reasons for using FB, such as entertainment, advertising, and even procrastination. This is why some people like to update their status so much, while others just passively soak the newsfeed like zombies (which is quite unhealthy). What Dr. Teppers’ study tells us is that our reasons matter when it comes to our well-being.
So basically, it’s fine and even healthy to seek social connection through Facebook. However, it’d be unwise to use it as a substitute for real offline socializing (or real life). It’ll only make you feel more alone.
What are your reasons for using Facebook? Do you find it to be enriching or disrupting your life?