Digital faces

Slapped in the Facebook

Can you imagine a life without Facebook, let alone remember a time before it? It’s now a part of our daily routine. We share our experiences, political views, photos and losses — exhibiting ourselves for “our friends.”

It doesn’t stop there. “Facebook-stalking” potential dates and exes is commonplace. Why? We want to see what we are missing (Was that boyfriend really the one who got away?) and to ultimately feel satisfaction with our choices (Yep, I’m glad I dumped him.) We spend hours scrolling through thousands of posts from our “Friends,” occasionally pausing to Like a few.

When faced with all those good-news posts from our Friends — promotions, engagements, babies — you’d think your spirits would soar. Instead, it’s more like a “slap in the facebook.” Envy rears its ugly head. Your mood sways like a tree on a windy day, affected by what you see.

When we see a picture of a family on a beach vacation with beautiful smiles and tans to match, it can stir up feelings of jealousy, even if we’re happy for them. Additionally, we are slapped each time we see a pic of a gathering that we weren’t invited to. Our first instinct is to compare ourselves and drum up a story about what those people have that we don’t. Then, to offset those envious feelings, we imagine their inadequacies to soften the blow. Sound familiar?

So how can we feel good while using Facebook? As a therapist, I offer these ideas:

1. Think Before You Post. It sounds simple, but the truth is the simple mantra covers a host of evils. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t share those pictures of your adorable niece or keep quiet about that annoying customer service incident you had earlier — these things are a part of Facebook’s function. But think about why you’re sharing. (Are you secretly hoping that people will think you are a rockstar?)
2. Pick up on Patterns. If we sense something damaging in that pattern — like an overabundance of humble-brags (“My son is super sad because he got an A- on his math test.”) or pity-parties (“We got delayed in the airport coming back from Paris.”) — it might be time to make some changes.
3. Take a Facebook Vacation. That’s right — unplug, even if it is just for a day or two. Sometimes taking a breather can help put our own problems and successes in perspective.
4. Make Real Life Connections – Old School Style. With Facebook, there’s no risk involved, and no real intimacy either. It’s fun to reconnect with old friends and stay in-touch across distances, but it presents the illusion of familiarity with “Friends” on the outer fringes of our real life. If you need real life support, pick up the phone or meet a friend for coffee or a walk. FaceTime your far away friends.

When it comes to our own inner green-eyed monster, try to remember that Facebook is a highlight reel. Nobody’s life is tropical beaches and blushing brides all the time. Take each awesome photo album or announcement with a grain of salt.

Written by Lisa Schlesinger

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