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Negative Effects of Facebook: Social Connection or Social Isolation?

How to deal with social media loneliness

Did you see the BBC article about Facebook & loneliness? Researchers came out with a study that suggests using Facebook is related to reduced well-being and life satisfaction for young adults. The researchers noted, "On the surface, Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling the basic human need for social connection. Rather than enhancing well-being, however, these findings suggest that Facebook may undermine it."

Here are a few thoughts from us here at 7 Cups of Tea:

Beware when you Compare

We have a tendency to compare ourselves with others. Facebook makes it easy to "keep up with the Joneses," to see where others are in their lives, what they're up to on a daily basis, and with whom they're interacting frequently. Generally speaking, comparing yourself with another person can lead to feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, and frustration. Comparing yourself to people on Facebook is even worse. Why? Because of a little something called gatekeeping. Gatekeeping means we're all our own best editors and publicists, showing the world just what we want them to see, when we think they should see it. It's been said that people on Facebook only get married, have babies, get promoted, and go on cruises. The truth is, your friends on Facebook have the same daily challenges and frustrations you have. They just may or may not display them online.

Surround Yourself with Strong, Positive Vibes

"If your friends go to jail, you go to jail. If your friends go to Yale, you go to Yale." This is an old saying that suggests those with whom we surround ourselves MATTER. We exist within a real social network made up of flesh and blood, bodies, hearts and minds. Imagine yourself in the center of a circle. Draw lines connecting you to your friends, family, acquaintances, coworkers and others in your community. When someone in your circle is affected by a life event, good or bad, you'll feel a tug on that line because of your direct connection. The more you surround yourself with positive people moving onwards and upwards, the more you'll feel uplifted. 

Facebook is Not an Emotional Soapbox

It can be challenging to get emotional support on Facebook. If you share that you are struggling on Facebook, it can be difficult for your friends and family to support you openly and honestly. Even though you pick your Facebook friends, it still can be considered a public forum. If you expect a response to a particular status update, you're expecting that your connections are OK with their response being displayed to your network. Not everyone is OK with this, and not all of your connections know and feel comfortable sharing with one another. Think of it like having a loud intimate conversation in front of a group of people and their friends. For some, these displays of emotion are awkward and off putting.

At 7 Cups of Tea, we know that connecting through social networks is as powerful a medium of communication as radio, TV, books, and spoken word. We know that the internet is an amazing and essential part of living a modern, connected life. But we also know that every person has unique experiences, concerns, worries, and frustrations. So while Facebook is a great place to share with friends en masse, sometimes you just need to talk to someone one-on-one. 

Posted: 16 August 2013
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Lisa Meighan, MBPsS

Lisa is a licensed mental health counselor with an eclectic style of therapy to fit every client

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