So, here I am on a bright, shiny morning and what am I doing? Scanning Facebook. That I just scanned 20 minutes ago. And I checked it before I fell asleep. I’m feeling queasy in that way that feels very much like when I eat raw cookie dough. The beginnings of shame and sadness begin to bloat within me. Why? It’s just post after post of happiness, right?
This is shame in hair form
I can see why Facebook makes people more depressed. It’s easy to compare yourself to not only a handful of acquaintances, but 40 or 50 at one scroll. And make no mistake that our culture encourages comparison and its current offshoot, the humblebrag. You know what I’m talking about: So didn’t get the right size luggage for this trip to Spain! #notgoodwithestimating #hadtocheckit #hopeinVuitton. And I’m only slightly altering a real post from my feed.
Christmas is a ripe season for humblebragging about where you’re vacationing, what cool stuff you got, how attractive your family is, how attractive you are and how intelligent you are because you’re writing your own blog post and not just linking to someone else’s take on the same topic.
Oh yes, when I point the finger, three more point back at me – me, me, me so cute.
But dang, those are some gorgeous fingers
I’ve noticed that Facebook is replacing those commonalities that I used to have with other people like tv shows, songs on the radio, etc. Our new common reader is Facebook. I get a lot of local news from Facebook as well as tips on really great reads and funny stuff. Maybe the all the humblebragging and such is the price I pay, kind of like annoying local advertising, to get to the good stuff. The accumulation of it, however, is still depressing. And being constantly updated and notified that someone is commenting or liking something creates a sense of the junior high lunchroom. Why are you liking her post but not mine? Why do you never acknowledge my comments? Why did you accept her friend request, but not mine? And so on. I’d like to say that I’m above this, but I’m not. I’m still a 12 year old at heart. Yet here I am clicking back on it to see if I have any notifications. Why WON’T you accept me?
Why her? Is is because of my hat? My cholera?
There’s actually good neuroscientific reason for my feelings. In a troubling article, researcher David Rainoshek explains how Facebook creates a dopamine loop that makes our brains feel like we’ve just eaten something we love, had sex, or taken really good drugs, or a combination of all three. And Harvard researchers found that talking about ourselves feels pretty dang awesome too. Add to that the semi-horrifying research that shows that Facebook also rewires our brains to shorten our attention spans while increasing our proclivities to narcissism.
A helpful scientific graphic
What’s an envious narcissistic squirrel to do? Maybe unplug for a minute and look out the window. Or put on some shoes and go for a walk. Or call someone I haven’t talked to in a while. Or pet my big fat cat. Or sit for a moment, breathe and be grateful that I am here, in this shaft of sunlight on a gorgeous December morning.
But I know good and well I’ll be back here in an hour or so checking to see if anyone read this.
Images courtesy of Flickr’s Beth Kanter, Jennifer Boyer, and Wikipedia