Apparently, the more time you spend on Facebook the unhappier you will be. According to this research,
“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.”
An earlier study conducted last year by the American Academy of Pediatrics also found that children and teenagers can develop “Facebook Depression” when being overwhelmed with positive status updates and photos of happy friends.
It all seems to be down to the image we project on Facebook. We’re all shiny, happy people, apparently:
Why would this be? A few possibilities occur to me:
1. We like to play pretend, and portray a good image of ourselves.
2. Being honest is altogether too dangerous in some circles. “I’m fine.”
3. Despite all the trend towards openness encouraged on social networks (watch out if Facebook changes the privacy controls again), some of us are careful about posting negative things, even if we honestly believe or think them.
4. We’re prone to a ‘grass is always greener on the other side’ mentality, due to a lurking pre-existent sense of dissatisfaction with our lives.
Of course, none of this is true in the church …
I once asked a work colleague whose judgment I respected (even though we were not close outside of work) what sort of person she thought I was. She replied “I think you’re a very closed and private person”. I was shocked, to say the least. That wasn’t how I saw myself.
I think the thing I don’t much like about Facebook is that need for affirmation (by many on Facebook). The more ‘friends’ you have, the more ‘visits’ you have – this somehow makes you popular or needed. My children think I’m a dinosaur – they could be right!
Re: the church. I do feel comfortable with most of my church friends and I would share some personal information with a number of them. But maybe that is because I live in a small town so have the opportunity to see them in other than a ‘church building’ setting.
For our minister, there’s a fine line between being our preacher/pastor and being our friend. I’m unsure about our present minister but I know our previous minister had a spiritual adviser, a retired Baptist minister. I’m sure this relationship was an important one for him.
I think there’s a great danger in substituting ‘real life’ relationships for ‘internet’ relationships and this would be a particular danger for those who need to project a certain image in their real-life work (or calling).