Note: going on a hike with a friend = meaningful communication (thanks, Hadley!). Asking a friend how they are doing only via Facebook = not meaningful communication.
The other day, I came across an article a friend posted on Facebook, entitled: "Study of Facebook Users Connects Narcissism and Low Self-Esteem" with the subtitle "If your status update was 'I'm so glamorous' you might not really think much of yourself.'"
The article shared about a study conducted by a psychology researcher. After observing 100 students, the psychologist found that "People with lower self-esteem were more likely to spend more than an hour a day on Facebook and were more prone to post self-promotional photos" and that "Narcissists were also more likely to showcase themselves through status updates and wall activity" (Source).
I'll admit that when I saw the article headline, I found it amusing but was also very intrigued. For a while, I have wondered if Facebook (ultimately) has a positive or negative impact on my overall well being. While I don't feel that my self esteem has decreased over the years due to using Facebook, I do think that it sometimes affects me more than I think. I have noticed (for example) that I get easily (and regularly) frustrated when I see certain types of status updates. The constant "look at me and my amazing life!" public bragging technique (in particular) from some of my "friends" is the worst. I also get frustrated when I lose an hour or two of much needed rest due to unnecessary Facebook browsing the night before (which often involves reading the "look at me" status updates).
Months ago, I gave up Facebook for a week, in an attempt to see how much more productive I could be by filling the time I normally spent using Facebook with healthier habits, such as exercise and cleaning my home (I know, what a concept). I did enjoy the one week break and was more productive, but didn't feel it was enough of a break to really assess the big picture.
So - I reached out to my friend Anna. We decided that we wanted to team up and give up Facebook for a chunk of time: one month (starting on January 1st). This may not sound like a lot of time, but considering that I've used Facebook almost weekly for six years, it will be healthy break. I am very excited to spend a month of my life Facebook free. After doing more "quitting Facebook" google searches, I saw another article about a group of college students who deactivated their Facebook accounts. I enjoyed reading the feedback from the students. One said:
“In total, I had maybe 1,000 friends...Like everyone else I know, my friend list also had a ton of random people that I'd met maybe one time...No offense to any of them, they just weren't worth the distraction. I realized that the people I'm really close to already know more about me than I can even list on Facebook.”
Another student commented: “Honestly, I don't really miss it...Looking back, there was nothing really exciting about Facebook to begin with – nothing more exciting than maintaining meaningful communication in real life at least. I really feel good knowing that a website isn't a major part of my life and my day-to-day routine.”
I truly love the second student's comment about maintaining meaningful communication with the people in his life that matter the most. It's one of my main concerns in regard to this topic: the decrease of meaningful communication in my life that goes along with the increase in my social media use.
I would LOVE for YOU to join Anna and I on our one month Facebook cleanse! If you are interested in joining, please let us know. We'll be announcing those of you who are taking the plunge, reporting feedback along the way, and sharing our best findings in February!
What I'm hoping will happen (in no particular order):
1. More sleep
2. More productivity
3. Meaningful communication with friends
4. A break from annoying status updates
5. An opportunity to take better care of myself and think closely about how I use my time
6. Bonding with Anna :)
ONE disclaimer: Ironically, Anna and I both share the same birthday (January 14th) so we are choosing to have a friend change our passwords (rather than completely deactivating our accounts) so that we can still receive happy birthday greetings that one day and say thank you when we're done. :).