Your Facebook News Feed
Our News Feed is how we "consume" information through Facebook - friend updates, group posts, news articles and advertising. It's a vital, real-time source of information, and helps us to stay connected to our world in a way that would be impossible through "real life", in person connections. So it's a miracle of sorts, particularly for those who grew up prior to the days of Facebook. We see our friends through live video on vacation, get birth announcements literally within seconds, and keep up to date with our friends' activities from afar. We experience joy and sadness, virtually along side our friends through this magical connection.
But this hyper-exposure can sometimes come at a heavy price; all of the emotions that we can experience as human beings get magnified through the sheer volume of information, and the fact that people can post whatever they want. People tend to voice opinions and share experiences more freely on Facebook — much more so than they might face-to-face.
Comparing — Envy begins with our natural tendency to compare - our looks, our intelligence, our popularity, our experiences, our success, our happiness - with others. Studies have shown that people tend to post mostly their "best" side, and we need to remember that. Therefore, if we are not "mindful" Facebook users and fail to understand that, comparing ourselves to others can ruin our Facebook experience.
Jealousy — A wicked cousin of comparing, jealousy can consume us. Sometimes it seems that everyone around us is more successful, popular and happy. While no one wants to experience jealousy, we keep coming back for more, without the healthy perspective and mindful grounding that's needed.
Humblebragging — A growing trend on Facebook is that of humblebragging; the complaining about a situation that really has the intent of bragging about an experience. Example: "This is the last time I ever fly first class. They didn't even have my favorite wine!" The real meaning is "Look at me - I get to fly first class everywhere I go, drinking wine is cool, and I like for people to think I am a success!" But unless we can see that person's insecure ego for what it is, we fall victim to their humblebragging.
Divisiveness — The number of posts that highlight our differences seem to far outweigh those that emphasize and support our commonalities. Our culture has become one of divisiveness, taking sides and strongly voicing our opinions. Support for this divisiveness can be easily recognized in the media, where everyone seems anxious to draw emotional battle lines over politics, religion, culture, demographics, public policies, life choices, behaviors, preferences and just about any other topic that can be imagined. Rather than being flooded with unifying, "feel good" posts, we face quite the opposite every time we read our News Feed - sometimes blatantly challenging, and sometimes in ways that are more subtle. It's easy to get sucked into this conflict mode. In fact, many people can become obsessed with the need to be right, rather than being open to allowing other's to have their own opinions. (Important note: We fully support Freedom of Speech and healthy, respectful discourse on important topics. Our point is that oftentimes divisiveness sets the tone for a negative exchange between people, rather than establishing a positive tone to support diverse opinions with mutual respect.)
Negative News — It used to be that TV and radio alone were the culprits of negative news. For years many forward-thinking people have opted to avoid network news altogether for their own mental health. But today it has become increasingly difficult to avoid; we may innocently want to use social media to see what our friends are up to, only to find ourselves barraged with "what bad things are happening in the world today." News of mass killings, natural disasters, social injustices, and even the torture of sweet pets unpredictably bombard our screens. We see and hear first hand the agonizing emotional and physical pain that our friends are experiencing. Even though we sometimes want to be aware and provide support, it can often become overwhelming. Whatever the case, it then becomes difficult to look away, to click off that horrifying video and protect our own emotional well-being. Studies have shown that a constant flood of negative thinking (sadness, anger, frustration) has a lasting and significant impact on our mental and physical health.
Saturation — The numbers that analysts use to measure Facebook usage are astounding. As a whole, Facebook users post about 3 million times per minute around the clock. Every minute, there are around 510,000 comments posted, 293,000 statuses updated and 136,000 photos uploaded. Every minute, users push the Like button more than 4 million times! As individuals, we consume around 34 gigabytes of content and 100,000 words of information every day (from Facebook plus all other forms of media). It's just too much to comprehend, let alone effectively deal with. We risk becoming saturated and numbed by it all, which can deprive us of the time and energy to fully engage in "real life."