Two weeks ago as I was sitting at Sharis after a church service with a group of about eight people around a table I observed a very interesting scene in front of me. Every person had a phone in their hand that they were staring at. No one was really talking to one another except to occasionally share something interesting on their phone. Some of the people were on facebook. Some of them were playing the “draw something” game. And the rest of us were on instagram – which I had only downloaded that day on my phone (it’s a world of its own!). And as I sat there going through my phone… looking through pictures of what the rest of my “friends” were doing out there I realized that I was doing something that I often do when I’m in a group of people who can’t seem to un-attach themselves from their technological devices for a minute – I was missing the moment. I wasn’t having a good conversation with the person sitting beside me. I wasn’t meeting the new person sitting across from me. I was glued to my phone… just like every other person by me.
And it got me thinking about facebook, instagram, twitter…. all those awesome sites and app’s that are all about “sharing your life” with the rest of the world and the purpose of them and how they affect each one of us daily.
It’s interesting that less than five years ago the only people that knew what you were doing with your life are the people that shared your life with you. People that were directly influenced by you or came in contact with you. Now people can “follow” you with one click of a button. The whole following concept is interesting to me. It used to be that you “follow” politics, world leaders, famous people.. but now you can “follow” your friends…
I’m all for facebook and instagram and twitter (for the most part). I love seeing what my friends are up to – especially if they live in different parts of the states or are travelling to different parts of the world and sharing their experiences. I love sharing my own life and thoughts on it. But these past few days I started really thinking about all these social networking sites and the influence they have on people. And of course being the curious person that I am and figuring out the “psychological reasoning” behind things (psychology major here) 😉 I decided to do some of my own “research” on facebook and its influence on people (I’m sure my professors would be so proud of me) 😉 and I have discovered an interesting fact… Well, not that interesting after I thought more about it. It actually makes perfect sense, sadly.
The fact? Facebook seems to be the cause of bitterness, resentment, and jealousy according to recent studies. If you want to feel like life is unfair, your glass is half empty compared to everyone else’s, and the grass is always greener on someone else’s lawn you don’t need to go far… just log into your facebook account.
Why? The answer is simple. Facebook isn’t “real” life. It’s a place where people share only bits and pieces of their life. And those bits and pieces typically happen to be the highlights of their life. The happy moments. The fun things. The perfectly edited pictures. The cute quotes. For the most part facebook is a place for people to share how incredibly fabulous their life is (except for a few exceptions, of course) and unless you get with the program and share your own oh-so-fabulous life then well… there’s something really wrong with you. Most people who go on facebook to “follow” every one else’s lives tend to perceive people’s lives better than their own. Happier than their own. More fulfilling than their own. And soon that green little monster begins to sit on their shoulder (AKA: jealousy). They begin comparing their own life to everyone else’s… and truth be told… sometimes it’s not going as fabulous as the rest of the facebook users world.
The best way for people not to allow themselves to perceive their life or other people’s lives differently than they do? Don’t judge the happiness of people based on their facebook page, status, pictures, etc… and don’t base your own on these things either. And if it comes down to it and you really feel unhappy about your life every time you log onto facebook, then do what a lot of other people are doing these days: quit facebook. For a period of time. Forever. It just might make you happier and less concerned with everyone else’s “great” life around you.
“People have two lives. The one that wakes up in the morning with bad breath and eye boogers. And the other one, which is the photoshopped version we save expressly for Facebook.”
^Isn’t that the truth? I’ve discovered that personally what I see on facebook doesn’t usually bug me… unless I’m having a really bad day. Then going online and seeing everyone else “happy” and doing their thing makes me feel like “well… my life stinks at the moment, and everyone else’s is just fabulous -greeeat! That makes me feel much better” Not that I expected to see people posting statuses about how “miserable” their lives are. At the moment I just didn’t care to see how fabulous it is… compared to my own – which might not feel too fabulous at the moment. But for the most part – if you’re enjoying your own life and living it to the fullest then it makes you happy to see others doing the same – whether they post it on facebook or not. But for those “bad days”… facebook might not be the best place for you to go. If you’re struggling with finding joy and contentment in your own life… don’t bother logging into the virtual world of “bliss and happiness” to help you find it because what you’ll find will most likely be the opposite of what you need. You’ll feel bad about yourself and your life more than you originally did.
Facebook is also a place that makes it so much easier to break commandment #10: “Thou shalt not covet…anything that’s not your own” (Anna’s translation” 😉 Coveting stems from one thing: comparison – which can be a huge thing people on facebook deal with as they are constantly exposed to everyone else’s life. Facebook has become an easy place to go when you need affirmation for where you are in life. You know who’s married with five kids, who’s traveling the world, who’s getting a college degree, who’s involved in what, and who’s not doing anything special at all (or they’re just the really cool person who posts nothing on facebook at all.. gotta love those!) and you now have people to compare yourself to. Sadly. Comparison doesn’t usually lead to a good place. If everyone’s doing “better” than you all you feel is discouraged about yourself and your life. If you think you’re doing “better” than everyone else, well then, all you are is prideful. Neither are good.
As I was thinking about all of these wonderful things related to good ol’ facebook and social networking (thank you psychology today) I tried to think of a bible verse that would relate to this topic and the only one that came to mind was John 21:21-22. Here Jesus is asking Peter if he loves Him and then telling him to follow Him and fulfill his purpose in life. And He ends by indicating what kind of death he would have (verse 18) and in return to this Peter turns to Jesus and pointing to John (the disciple whom Jesus “loved”) he asks what will happen to his life and I love Jesus’ answer to this, “Why does it matter to you what happens to John? You live the life that I have planned for YOU Peter, and don’t worry about what I have planned for John“.
And whenever I log onto facebook and see what people are doing with their lives (at least what they choose to post about their lives) or just when I talk to people about their lives I have learned an important lesson from this scripture: I must live my own life to the fullest the way God leads me to and not worry about how everyone else is leading theirs. Not that I shouldn’t care about other people’s lives. But I shouldn’t compare my life to theirs to a point where it brings me to jealousy or unsatisfaction in my own life. Just like Peter I need to stop asking God and myself “Well… what about this person’s life? Why is it different than mine? Why does it seem better than mine? Easier than mine?” According to facebook anyway. 😉 I must choose not to compare my green grass to theirs to see if in fact their grass is really greener than mine. If it is or if it isn’t, so what? That shouldn’t make a difference about how I live my life.
And all ^ this came from? Sitting at Sharis that night two weeks ago… watching everyone playing on their smart phones… 😉 And I’m sure there’s still so much to learn when it comes to these technological aspects and social networking that play such a big role in our lives.
My conclusion? If facebook, or instagram, or twitter… or whatever form of social networking is somehow making it harder for you to enjoy your life… then it’s up to you to discipline yourself with how often you choose to spend time in the virtual world. And the most important lesson of all? Log off of facebook. Put your super awesome smart phones with a million cool apps on them down and live in the moment. Enjoy your life. Don’t spend it “following” others and watching them enjoy theirs. 🙂 Be blessed!