Facebook has taken alot of hits lately; studies are out there questioning the effects of social media on our mental health and relationships overall.
But I wonder if we are lumping all Facebook angst together, when in fact there are multiple factors to consider. Some of the pitfalls researchers are discovering are the result of a phenomenon that is so new we’re still trying to navigate and define the boundaries of it — a change measuring an 8.0 on the cultural Richter scale. Social media has changed the universe — we’re talking nuclear blast here.
Over time, some of these “issues” will sort themselves out — perhaps a new generation of Elizabeth or Emily Posts are penning an etiquette manual to guide us as we speak.
There are other issues, however, that a “how-to-avoid-social-faux-pais” missive cannot address. That’s because obnoxious and sometimes downright disturbing behavior that people have displayed on Facebook is a reflection of internal turmoil within themselves. Specifically, Facebook is simply a new venue that allows their dysfunctional pathology to manifest itself.
Consider Jamie A, who has a daughter with borderline personality disorder. Like most borderlines, “Megan” often rages at self-perceived, non-existent slights. Her relationships are volatile and “she’ll love you one minute and five minutes later utterly despise you.” There is no middle ground. To Megan, people are either thoroughly good are abhorrently evil.
She’s carried her pathological disorder into the world of social networking. Jamie says, “If someone doesn’t “like” something she’s posted, or heaven forbid, they disagree with her opinion, she’ll not only immediately de-friend them, she’ll de-friend everyone associated with them — she’d de-friend their dog, if she could.”
Megan doesn’t stop there — after slinging them off her friend list, she starts slinging the mud; she maligns these frenemies to her remaining friends. Even worse, much of what she “reveals” is total fabrication.
Did Facebook cause Megan’s problems? Of course not. Her personality disorder was already full-blown by the time she signed up for her account.
Desperate for Attention
A recent study shows that people who display an inordinate number of selfies and other photos of themselves risk damaging their “real-life” friendships. The author of the study says that the reason for this is that people don’t identify with those who put up lots of photos of themselves.
I assume that’s because we identify that kind of behavior with narcissism and self-absorption, and aptly so. Did Facebook suddenly turn these people into attention hoes and photo-hogs? Probably not. Only a person with narcissistic tendencies or a very low IQ hasn’t gotten the memo that trying to be the center of attention on the Facebook stage is a bad idea.
Certainly there are some Facebook red flags to be aware of (we’ll discuss those tomorrow). But people with issues on Facebook had issues long before Mark Zuckerberg could tie his shoes.