We all love technology, in particular the internet, and to be honest most of us couldn’t function in today’s society without it. Facebook and other social media sites such as Twitter are at the forefront of modern life and while they have a lot of positive aspects, they are also affecting us in ways we may not have realised.
Below are 5 reasons why Facebook could be ruining your life.
1. It is affecting your dopamine levels
You’re addicted to Facebook.
Maybe not all of you, but a significant proportion of the population are addicted. The proof is actually being demonstrated to you right now. You saw this headline, and you just HAD to see what was in the article.
I’m crafty like that.
What causes this addiction is a substance in your brain called Dopamine which is responsible for things like motivation and a sense of reward. An example of dopamine in action is when your phone receives a text, it beeps loudly, and we suddenly feel the urge to check the message.
It is a chemical that thrives on the unknown. The anticipation that something is about to happen and the feeling of euphoria that accompanies when it actually does. It is the reason why we keep logging in to Facebook and why we keep refreshing the page to see what new statuses have been posted. We are simply addicted to the new information that is being fed to us.
You may think it is harmless but the more dopamine that is released the more saturated our receptors become and in time they will lose their sensitivity and thus more dopamine is needed to achieve the same effect. As with any addiction, you will seek out bigger and better hits to get the same level of satisfaction. You will spend more time on the internet, seeking out more information, more updates and more gossip.
Now you know why your gran used to always peek out the curtains and nose on the neighbours. She was an addict.
2. You have trouble with your real relationships
You would think that having immediate access to every person you have ever spoken to would surely enable us all to grow closer right? Just one click and you can ‘like’ someone’s status update or you can use one yourself to organise a night out, or simply to show everyone what colour pants you’re wearing.
No don’t do that.
Actually you can, it’s quite funny.
The thing is, all of this simplicity regarding communication is actually causing us problems with our ability to maintain and handle relationships.
A recent Australian study stated that Facebook users had slightly lower levels of “social loneliness”—the sense of not feeling bonded with friends—but “significantly higher levels of family loneliness”—the sense of not feeling bonded with family.
Not only this but a 2009 study showed that Facebook made unique contributions to the experience of jealousy in romantic relationships. How simple ambiguous information that the user would not normally have access to could cause that person to generate strong feelings of jealousy and resentment.
3. It can make you believe your own life sucks
Log in to your Facebook account on a Saturday or Sunday morning and you’re likely to be bombarded with a million photos of your ‘friends’ antics the previous night. All those big happy smiley group photos showing what a great night they had. Or maybe the status updates where someone constantly goes about how they are at such and such enjoying the ‘best’ time with their ‘bestest peeps’.
I’m trying not to even think about those icky relationship loved up statuses and pictures.
The point being, if we believed everything we read and saw on Facebook, we would come to the conclusion that everyone had more fun, more success and generally lived much better lives.
According to a new study by Utah Valley University sociologists Hui-Tzu Grace Chou and Nicholas Edge, this is exactly what a lot of us think.
According to the authors, “Those who have used Facebook longer agreed more that others were happier, and agreed less that life is fair, and those spending more time on Facebook each week agreed more that others were happier and had better lives. Furthermore, those that included more people whom they did not personally know as their Facebook ‘friends’ agreed more that others had better lives.”
The catch 22 situation where people with lower self-esteem spend more time alone and thus are more likely to aimlessly browse Facebook means this belief can only get worse over time.
4. You’ve probably lost out on a job because of it
Ahh remember the days when you could apply for a job and totally lie on your CV because, well nobody will ever check and as long as you ace the interviews, you’re good to go? Sadly the good old days are well and truly in the past.
It is more likely now that your potential future employer will log into Facebook and do a little search for your name. What he or she discovers can ultimately make the difference concerning your chances of getting the job.
That’s right, your ‘ironic’ status updates from 2008 can, now thanks to that pesky timeline, be read by anyone at any time. Now here’s a quick test; Have you ever said anything remotely racist or sexist on Facebook? Probably not, but you may have done and not realised it. Or something you have written could be misconstrued as being such and that is all that is needed.
We won’t even go into those embarrassing drunken photos that you were tagged in.
So unless your privacy settings are top notch, or you have meticulously picked your way through the last 5 years of your timeline, you could have some information up that could derail your job prospects. You won’t even need to quit your job, Facebook will see that you’ll never work again!
5. Facebook likes to stalk you… wherever you go
Have you ever visited a website that has one of those little Facebook boxes that shows how many people like that particular page? Of course you have, and you know what I’m going to say next. You have also noticed that it shows a few of your friends in there too. How can that be so? There are a hundred quadrillion people on there yet it shows your friends first. What kind of witchcraft and sorcery is going on here?
Well you see, Facebook being the lovely ethical chaps that they are, like to install a cookie on your computer that tracks what websites you visit and follows both you and your friend’s activities. If any of your friends have interacted with that page before and ‘liked’ it.
Then you will know about it.
And they can see everything you have ever liked too.
Think this is limited to people with Facebook accounts? No that would be too simple. Even if you hate Zuckerberg and his 800 million chums, they can still get to you.
You see they can issue cookies even if you don’t have an account providing you visit websites that have those Facebook ‘like’ and connect boxes. Your information is stored so that if you ever decide to sign up in the future, they already know everything about you.