Top four ways to protect yourself and your identity on Facebook
It's no hidden fact that there is a flipside to social media websites like Facebook. The same can be confirmed by users who have felt incomplete after reading their friend's exciting status updates on Facebook.
And science has evidence what a disappointment this can be. There is enough research and proof which correlates negative thoughts with the amount of time spent on Facebook. A new study suggests that it is one's habit of comparing themselves to others on the social network that might ignite those “depressive symptoms.”
“For instance, if you were logging onto Facebook and you just broke up with someone, but your friend just posted about her engagement, you might feel worse about yourself because you're single,” study author Mai-Ly Steers of the University of Houston told TODAY.com.
But, hold on — don't go and delete your account just yet. Psychologist Elizabeth Lombardo, author of “A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness,” shared the below mentioned tips for how to use social media in a healthy way.
1. Clean up your friends list
If you are browsing a certain person's profile too often — probably an ex? — and after reading it you do not have a good feeling afterwards, in that case should think of removing that person from your friend list on Facebook.
“If you can do it in a way that your friend doesn't get upset or notice, I think that's a great idea,” Lombardo said.
2. Stop using the word ‘should'
It might not sound like much, but it's a red flag, Lombardo warns.
“When you get on Facebook, pretend you have a microphone in your brain,” she said. “If you catch yourself saying, ‘I should look like that' or ‘My kids should be doing that, too,' immediately stop. You're judging yourself and comparing yourself to others.”
3. Balance digital time with real-life connections
Lombardo suggests that you should be certain that you are spending more time with your real friends and not your online friends.
“Meet a friend for a dinner or go for a walk with someone,” she said. “Even just texting a friend directly can be a really powerful thing.”
Steers, the researcher, suggested that people should use Facebook for its predetermined purpose, which is to make connections, not browse through other Facebook friend's vacation photos until you feel sad that you are stuck at work.
“I don't think Facebook or any social media is innately good or bad, but it depends on how the person is using it,” Steers said. “It should be a fun, positive experience. If you're finding it's a negative experience, then it's probably time to step back and reevaluate whether you should be using it as frequently.”
She clarified that her research doesn't prove Facebook causes depression, but only suggests a link between use of the social network and depressive or sad feelings.
4. Shift to a win-win perspective
If you are struggling with FOMO (“fear of missing out”) or can't stop comparing yourself to your friends on Facebook, it's time to change your mindset, Lombardo said.
“It's not a win-lose experience,” she explained. “Just because someone is thin doesn't mean you're fat. Just because someone is doing well in their business doesn't mean you're a failure. Adopt more of a win-win perspective.”
“Another thing to consider is why you're comparing yourself,” Lombardo added. “It's a great opportunity to say, I have some opportunity to work on my own self-confidence and self-worth. So when we see someone posting something like, ‘My husband surprised me and took me to Paris!' we can be happy for them, because we don't view that as an attack on our own character.”
Steers' research, which was recently published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, is the latest in a list of studies that point to a negative aspect of Facebook, but on the other hand, there are researches that shows social media brings us tremendous joy, too.
Social comparison is not a recent trend — the comparison theory has been around since the 1950s. Comparing oneself to photos in magazines, friends at parties and strangers on the street have been trending for a long time. The Internet just provides them another opportunity to do so, Steers said: “I just think that now in the digital age, we know more about people's lives than ever before, which gives us more opportunities to social compare.”
So be watchful on Facebook, and concentrate on making connections and catching up with old friends (and not ogling at those engagement photos).