Friday, August 30, 2013

Self-Absorbed or just Striving to be Better? Why we make ourselves look great on Facebook

Why does Facebook make people depressed?

There are mutiple studies showing it happens: Michigan Study Stanford Study

Experts say it’s because we don’t want to just be happy, we want to be as happy or happier than other people. Most people on Facebook don’t post all the crap and mundane day-to-day normal life stuff – they post the fun, the excitement, the exercise, the new diet, their vacation to a place you could never afford, their beautiful family that looks happier than yours, their successes at work, their new goals, their big changes in life, etc…
Why do we post about going to the gym? To brag? Do we want people to think better of us? Do we post about going to church, or eating a healthy diet, or working hard or getting a new job to brag?

Why did I tell the whole world I signed up for a Tough Mudder? That I started doing P90X? That I was reading scriptures daily? That I was going out with my kids for 1-on-1 dates? That I made 25 goals for the new year? That I was helping a friend load his moving truck? Is it to show how awesome I am? To show that I am the fun, fit, father of the year who is friendly and infallible? (Perhaps that’s all true – some Shrink somewhere can psychoanalyze my posts and figure out my intent.)

I think a lot of the time we want to be held accountable. We want others to know the kind of person we want to be – so we'll live up to their expectation. I want to be fit enough to do a Tough Mudder race. So if I tell people about it 5 months ahead of time and get a team to do it with me – I won’t flake out – I’ll train and get ready for it because I’ve made a commitment and others expect it of me. I tell people I’m reading scriptures so that I’ll keep reading them. I post book reports so people will expect me and ask me to keep reading new books – books I’d never read otherwise. I post about good times with my kids so people will expect me to be a good dad.

I know these are not the best reasons. I shouldn’t need others approval to do these things – but what can I say? Peer Pressure Works. I haven’t reached that state of perfection where I do everything because it’s the right thing to do – sometimes I do it because it’s expected of me – and for now, that’s better than not getting it done, so I’ll take it.

Don’t assume the worst in people – don’t assume they're being prideful. They may be posting about how great they are because they fear they'll only become great if you expect it of them.

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