Is Facebook Slowly Damaging Your Mental Health? Probably Yes.

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Are you a frequent Facebook user? How much time do you spend on it weekly? Do you think it affects your mental health? Having deactivated Facebook a few years ago for more than 5 years, it’s not really part of my daily life even now that I’ve been using to for a couple of years. With the COVID-19 outbreak, I started checking it more regularly after lockdown and I started to notice how I felt after spending 5 minutes on Facebook.  I never installed the app, mainly because using the browser is annoying enough to give up after literally 15 minutes of scrolling- quite deliberate from my side. Now that I have become sort of dependent on it to get the most recent updates on so many things, I normally check Facebook every other day after having my morning coffee and doing a few other things in my morning routine.

Today I thought a little bit before doing that- I realized I wasn’t very excited about doing that- partially because I woke up with a headache, but more importantly because of the mostly negative feelings that creep up on me after the first few posts I scroll through. It’s obvious that the world is literally on fire in addition to a pandemic that has killed almost 1 million people, so we don’t wake up feeling exactly great about everything that’s going on. But that’s even more of a reason to be kind, compassionate, respectful and overall more humane.

To get to the point of this post, I’m not sure if it has always been this way or people have become so cruel recently on social media (mainly Facebook). The below are the most common and to some extent shocking behaviors that turned Facebook into a cruel and even dangerous social platform. They range from broadly hurting others to very specific targeted public bullying of certain people.

  1. Using the most gruesome way to share something important- making it hard for people to read the actual post after reading your graphic description or your take on it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to stay in touch and get updated with the all hot topics, but the way these topics are shared matters too. I don’t know about you, but I can’t help but notice how some people would not only deliver the news, they would make sure you feel horrible all day about it by using swear words, really graphic photos, etc. We appreciate the information sharing, but not how you made us feel.
  2. Offending the other opinion while sharing your own (similar to the one above, but not directed to a certain person- just anyone who holds a certain opinion- you really don’t have to call them names or wish them death in the most horrific ways to prove your point (especially if it’s just an opinion they’re sharing). The whole point you’re posting this is to convert other people to your own point of view- insulting them in the opening statement doesn’t really get them to read the rest of it- and even if they do, it’s probably going to be more for finding holes in your story and responding to your insults.
  3. Judging anyone and everyone you know even if only for an opinion. I’m sure we all have our judgmental tendencies that we need to work on, but putting them in writing for everyone to see is a whole new level- at least for me. We are always advised against fighting over text- mainly because it’s easier to type more hurtful things than what you would say in person and because it stays there for the other person to see more than once which makes it much harder to fix things later. Imagine your hurtful message being broadcast for the world to see- because this is what you do with a hurtful comment on Facebook. Quite damaging.
  4. Bullying someone you know by posting certain memes or quotes to criticize them (saying you know who you are and similar things). It’s really up to you to confront people or not with whatever issues you two -and sometimes more than two- have or choose not to. It’s just never a good idea to bring the 1000+ friends on your list into it. This ends up adding more people into the disagreement that started out as something private and never really ends well.
  5. Leaving offensive or -at best- insensitive comments all over the place- the comments section on any post literally makes me cringe. Sometimes it terrifies me to see that these comments were made by real people who are working down the hall or sitting next to you at a cafe or even walking in the street. The amount of hatred and violence in the comments makes me wonder what these people would do in real life, if they’re given the opportunity to actually do everything they think you deserve just because you have a different opinion from theirs.

Finally, I still think there’s a few benefits for being on Facebook that we need especially nowadays with the social isolation that’s forced upon us. And this makes the above even more harmful because for some people it’s the only form of social interaction they have left so the impact is much stronger than before. I realize everyone is free to express their own feelings and opinions about certain topics. We just need to be more kind and respectful while practicing our freedom of speech. Until this happens, I’ll always be grateful for the “Hide post” and “Snooze X” options.

4 comments

  1. I think Facebook is a horrible platform, for many reasons, including those on your list (although I haven’t really seen all of them). During the early pandemic days, I used it quite a bit, to share positive cheering up stuff on an Italian group I’m in. But the main feed became so miserable after a while that I first muted some friends, then stopped using it. Facebook is just clogged up with SO MUCH negativity and horrible things. It really brings out the worst in people.. If it wasn’t for my Italian friends I want to stay in touch with, I would delete my account. Writing this now makes me realise that I have them on Instagram too. So.. hmm.
    I find Twitter much easier to “clean up” and have mostly been enjoying my Twitter feed during this time.

    1. Your comment came just in time. I deleted my Facebook on Sunday evening after watching the Socia Dilemma and decided I can’t have someone manipulate my thoughts and mood all the time. I still have Instagram though, I find it a little bit more controllable if you’re quite aware of who you’re following- I unfollowed so many accounts that I believe are quite negative or push me to useless thoughts that waste my time. I removed my highlights to also lose that kind of being hooked on sharing so much of my life. Let’s see how that goes. I’m quite happy other people can see how damaging this is.

      1. I agree that Instagram is a bit more controllable, although it is becoming increasingly annoying with all the ads and new algorithms. But I found that the newest algorithm wasn’t so bad after all.
        What do you mean when you say remove your highlights?

      2. I used to save all my stories in different categories so I basically shared what I ate, where I traveled, what music I listen to, books, movies, thoughts and kept like 100 highlights that detailed my life in the past 3 years. I realized that not only have I shared this but I’m keeping it pinned in my profile for everyone to see again. It’s just so unhealthy sharing so much of yourself and keeping it all out in the open. I read your post on blogging and photography and I meant to reply- I’ll do that later tonight because I can relate to everything you wrote there.

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