What started out as a school project became real life inspiration about a month ago. Me and my partner chose a topic that was close to our hearts – that are close to many of our hearts – Facebook. Facebook has had profound impact on our lives since its inception in 2004. It’s been connecting long lost families, friends from the past, and I even know couples who have met on Facebook. I ride the bus, and find people scrolling through Facebook. Heck, even my mom is on Facebook. I guess a little Facebook is beneficial. It allows you to “connect” to people like never before. But, as I was going through life, I began to question if I truly had connection with my Facebook friends. I have 1000+ friends from all over the world. I have lived in many places throughout my lifetime; from the Philippines, Toronto, Northern Ontario, Oshawa, and Ottawa and I have made “friends” from all those places. It was quite satisfying to keep up with friends this way. With every update, I felt like a part of my friends’ lives. And when I update my status, everybody knew how I was feeling, doing, and thinking right away.
Somewhere along the way, I became tired of this superficial living. It’s as if people around have become zombie-like mindlessly scrolling through Facebook. Then, one day, I looked up from my phone. There was a sinking feeling that another day has gone, and I haven’t had anything done. Facebook has become a way of life, embedded, incorporated, enmeshed, and we don’t even realize just how deeply it has penetrated society to the point of it as natural as breathing. Isn’t it the first thing we check in the morning and last thing at night? With two billion users worldwide, Facebook isn’t just a benevolent site for connecting friends, it is a corporation. Some guy is making money off these dysfunctional friendships.
Not only that, Addiction to social media may affect the physical health of a person. Studies have shown that prolonged sitting as is mostly the case when engaging in social media world, kills more people than HIV aids, and is not being dubbed the new “smoking” (Schulte, 2015). Sitting, although harmless as it may seem at first, may have adverse effects on the health. Individuals are more susceptible to obesity, cardiovascular diseases, which may lead to heart attack The physical inactivity that is linked to excessive social media usage is also an increasing problem in society due to economic cause of healthcare; most diseases could have been preventable by physical activity, such as morbid obesity leading to heart problems. Not only that, users’ eyesight may be unnecessarily strained due to prolonged screen staring which could lead to permanent vision impairment. Most of the damage are subtle yet irreversible – the users needlessly suffering.
Studies have also shown that Facebook usage makes users unable to devote cognitive resources to task fulfillment and involves problems in initiating and maintaining action. Individuals lose the ability for self control and often ruminate in negative thoughts.
Sounds a lot to me like Good ‘Ol Brain Washin’. People are incapable of performing even the simplest task because their brains are hijacked by the constant feed of Facebook. Isn’t it sad how our society has become like this? People are merely existing, scrolling through artificial photos of friends who seem to be having the time of their lives. But often, these pictures are doctored, filtered and enhanced, I know, because it’s a well-known secret amongst people my age to use apps that filter our imperfections and present only our best self. The only thing missing is a label “pictures are far less fun than they appear.” It seems people are only doing “fun” things so they can post it on Facebook. The essence of true living is lost in order to perfect the fantasy life that is Facebook. Addiction to Facebook is real. Facebook use can be a vicious cycle of perpetual escape from reality equated with that of alcohol and drug use. Marriages and relationships have fallen apart because of this “greener on the other side” mentality. While it’s great to catch up with family and friends, Facebook must never take over our lives. Facebook is a tool, don’t let it make us a tool. Facebook is capitalizing on what is one of the most important things in a person’s life – friendship.
Facebook use is sheer mindlessness that is brought upon by diverse factors converging to create a generation of automatons – zombies. The cognitive faculties are easily hijacked by Facebook usage which could actually lead to depression, these negative effects include chronic distraction, engaging in social comparison, ruminating, and recalling negative memories (Tran, Uebelacker, Wenze, Collins, & Broughton, 2015).
It’s time to break out of the mold. After doing my project and doing hours of research and reading many articles, I realized I am addicted to Facebook. I had physical symptoms of withdrawal when I quit. I would felt so lost, with suddenly so much time on my hand. Facebook did not let me off the hook easily. When I deactivated my account, it showed pictures of my closest friends saying they will miss me. It even prompted me to list my reason for quitting, and had suggestions to improve my Facebook experience for me not to leave, like a very clingy lover. But, I had my mind made up. While I may undoubtedly be back, I want to take my time to really live, and not have this website control who I am and how I’m supposed to be.
So, I’d like to encourage you not to quit Facebook just because, but challenge you to live life with whatever you have been given. For me, that is school, my volunteer position, my writings, and all the things I never had time for because I was umbilically bound to Facebook. What was life like BF (Before Facebook). What did you enjoy doing? Life is so much more than the imprisoning hold of Facebook; much more than the jail cell(phone). Be so engrossed in life. Take time to really live right in the moment. Go to the gym, read a book, cook, and feel the intrinsic satisfaction of doing things you love without the external validation of a virtual thumb. Because, those are the things you remember on your deathbed, and not how many likes you attracted that one time you posted a heavily filtered picture of yourself.