Facebook- The Dark Side



It’s not the first time I have considered coming off Facebook because I feel my self-esteem waning and my confidence at an all-time low. Some months ago I came off for a short time. I set my settings so my author page would stay active and removed myself from Facebook. The truth is, I felt much better. There was no one to compare myself with. I wasn’t looking at photographs and considering my self-image. I wasn’t reading about other people’s lives and how much better they seemed to be faring. I didn’t read about other authors who it seemed were doing infinitely better than me. I spent several weeks feeling, that as a person, I was okay. That my work was good and that I was, to all intents and purposes, successful, at least as successful as I could hope to be. I’ve never been a terribly confident person but I find my confidence drops to an all-time low after being on Facebook. If I had self-doubts, these would be reinforced when reading how well others seem to be doing, reaffirming my belief that I was a failure because I wasn’t reaching their standards. It took me a long time to realise that what I was seeing was very much smoke and mirrors and that most likely the people who seemed to be spectacular successes, were in fact doing no better than me. However, they maybe had a better way of making it seem that they were. And those who seemed to be living amazing lives are, in fact, living a life no better than mine. I would often come away feeling like the world’s worst failure. I don’t recall feeling this way for a long time. It then occurred to me that Facebook made me feel very much like the mousy, plain Jane that I had always dreaded being. It was like being out with a bunch of women who were more successful and prettier than me.

According to psychotherapist  Sherrie Campbell, social media gives us a false sense of belonging. This means we give our cyberspace connections more weight than they deserve. We ultimately compare ourselves to others. But only as others portray themselves, not necessarily as they really are. Everyone’s life looks perfect. But in reality it is just a quick snapshot of someone’s life. If we take everything we read literally then it most certainly seems like we are lacking. When I begin feeling negative about myself after looking at my Facebook home page I know it is time for a break. Hence my use has been less over the past few months. I’m sure I’m not alone.

I enjoy my interaction with friends and many of my friends on Facebook are my friends. Like everyone, I have friends on Facebook that I have never met and I also have friends that I have made through Facebook and they have become close friends. I’ve had some unpleasant connections too. But most of the time my interactions on Facebook have been pleasurable.  Am I alone in torturing myself? Do others look at their home page and come away feeling dejected? I’d love to know.

Meanwhile, I’m rationing myself to limited time on social networking and putting my self-esteem first. I’m learning not to take things literally and to realise that things aren’t always what they seem. I’m seeing a snapshot of someone’s life. What is really happening behind closed doors I’m sure I’m not privy to. I know I don’t share my personal hell. The truth is we only want people to know the extreme things that are happening to us. One for praise and the other for sympathy and I’m sure I’m as guilty as the next person of this. But if you see me missing for a while, you’ll know why.


14 thoughts on “Facebook- The Dark Side

  1. I never used to like Facebook (or Twitter) and would always favour the blogging world over everything. I still do love blogging but I am also enjoying Facebook. The reason why is because I’ve condensed my friends list down to a minimum. Most of the ‘friends’ on there are people I either know personally or have regular contact with in the publishing industry or through other means, like special needs. But if I see all those boastful and “I’m so successful” updates, I either skim past, ignore or click like – and if it’s someone I feel really deserves the success, then I’ll leave a little comment. I’ve spent a lot of time on Facebook these past few weeks boasting about my books because I’m trying desperately to market them – unfortunately, if I don’t it, no one else will as I’m an indie author, which means I might as well pack in writing books if I don’t do the marketing bit. I hate blowing my own trumpet, Lynda, I really. I haven’t been brought up to “brag”. But my good friend and editor has drilled it into me that I’ve worked extremely hard to achieve what I have and therefore I should shout it from the rooftops.

    You’re a good woman, everyone knows that.
    Love Kathryn xx


    1. I think you have the right balance. You don’t seem to be going over the top. I think social networking affects people in different ways. It seems to have a bad effect on me at the moment. xxxxxx


  2. I don’t feel that I have low self esteem from social media (my main social media is Facebook). However, I do often feel that it is too much mental stimulation, and I feel overwhelmed at times.


  3. You may not be entirely alone in thinking that. I have been using Facebook less as well, and only really log in and browse for a few minutes when I have to greet someone on their birthday.. I guess it may have started when a lot of friends were uploading lots of their travel photos that I find myself thinking why I couldn’t do that.. It’s not really healthy, so I browse less (Facebook & Instagram. Twitter is a good source for news headlines. Anyway.) but it’s actually a good thing. I don’t feel as shallow (sorry for the term) as I think some people are, when they only post pictures that make people comment, “Wow, you’re so lucky!”. But I realized that I’m able to do more what I really want to do. Like, reading for example. Or volunteering.. Social media is fine, but for me, it’s really just a short-lived romance. Not quite for a long commitment. Nothing beats having dinner with friends and each of you talking with each other with your phones on the table (for emergency purposes) face down. Disconnect To Connect, that’s what we call it. 🙂


    1. I couldn’t agree more Lily. I’m holidaying at the moment and have put social media on the back burner. I’ve been reading, working and feeling generally good. I enjoy my time with my friends too. More intimate and real. Thanks so much for commenting. xxxxxx


  4. Mostly it makes me miserable, Lynda – though occasionally wonderful too. When I came off for a few weeks I felt so much better, healthier and self-accepting. I’ve a propensity to compare myself to these’ wonderful lives’ being had on fb. But like you I know all that glitters isn’t gold.. Amanda (Smith) Xxx


  5. Brilliant article Lynda and one I’m sure many of us will identify with.
    I know exactly how you feel, as I feel the same way myself. I’m very happy for my writing friends when they have successes, but it does often make me feel that I’m not as good as them – which may be the case – and I have, on many occasions, felt like giving up writing, because everyone else seemed to be doing so much better – selling short stories, getting publishing deals etc.
    And yes, then there’s the photos of them in fab clothes, looking svelte and stunning. But, I found out that one person I was friends with was using a photo of herself from about fifteen years ago! She looks completely different now – not as slim, and several more lines on her face. Another ex friend uses a photo shoot photograph – which barely resembles how she really looks, so, I’ve stopped worrying now.
    My photo, and photos I post are of me, how I look now, and if people don’t like it, that’s their problem.
    It’s very sad that someone doesn’t use FB much because of how it makes them feel. You’re a lovely person Lynda, that in itself is enough x


  6. Hi Lynda, Facebook can be a dreadful ‘leach’ on time. It depends what you use it for. It’s good for promotion and getting your work out there, but as to self esteem…mmmm….I think people show us what they wish us to see, the same as real life really. A mere ‘snapshot’. I use it to stay in touch with proper friends and family abroad, but I avoid the rest of it. I was heard to comment to an ex. boyfriend (there’s a clue there) that while he was trawling through all the Fb posts on his phone, I was sitting there, right there, in front of him and he wasn’t talking to me. I may have yelled (yes yelled, imagine) that I was real, in front of him, life unfolding in front of him, while he was living an ‘unreality’ on Fb. I walked out on him. We all do what we need to do to feel good about ourselves, to feel whole…you are a wonderful person and hugely talented…you have a unique voice and talent to share with this world. For that your friends and loved ones are very grateful. ❤ xXx


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