Stress, Self Esteem and Facebook

I’ll be honest, I have never been a huge fan of Facebook.  It’s not that I am anti-social media – I love Twitter and read lots of blogs on a daily basis.  But I’ve never quite figured out how to use Facebook, maintain healthy levels of stress and keep up my self esteem at the same time.

Facebook-induced stress

It has taken me several years to realize the sneaky ways that Facebook can cause stress in my life if I give it a chance.  Am I logging on enough?  What am I going to miss if I don’t catch up on my “friends” today? Am I logging on too much?  Am I neglecting my duties (as a mom, wife, psychologist, friend) because I am spending too much time on Facebook?  Should I accept her friend request?  Un-friend him? Ahhh! Just writing about these things is increasing my blood pressure.

Facebook is a time-sucking machine that can take us away from our families and friends and replace them with long-lost high school crushes and distant relatives we’ve never met.  Do we really want to add to our already stress-filled lives in this way?

Facebook and self esteem

In just the last few days I have read about “friends” who:

  • still fit into their wedding dress from 10 years ago
  • had a great time at a party (that I was not invited to)
  • “Puked [their] guts out 10 times”
  • Just finished “another” triathlon
  • Gotten a “huge” raise
  • Named Girl Scout leader of the year

Now, these things are all wonderful (except maybe the puking one), but when I read them I don’t feel great.  Instead I feel lazy, or unpopular, or inadequate, or like a bad mom/wife/friend.  And here I thought connecting with all our pals was supposed to make us feel loved and energized about our social lives.  I know I’m not alone in feeling the opposite.

Perhaps it’s because the people I really care about don’t frequently post on Facebook?  Or perhaps it’s because when great, sad, funny things happen to the people I love they typically tell me in person – or at least via email – about the event?  Either way, reading about the lives of “friends” (read: not people I would consider a true friend) is typically not an experience that I would describe as pleasant or fulfilling. Instead it feels like snooping or eavesdropping on someone with a perfect life: Not fun.

So, instead of browsing around the profiles, pictures, and posts of our old flames and the neighbor down the street, maybe we can turn the computer off and interact with the real people in our lives.  I can feel my stress and self-esteem levels go back to normal just thinking about it.