I’m just going to come out and say it – I am a Facebook addict. Like any addiction, the first step to getting over it is to admit it. I think, and I’m sure a lot of you will agree, Facebook addiction is a legit disorder in today’s world. I am trying to reduce my daily Facebook usage but will not quit cold turkey just yet because the stalker in me needs her fix every now and then.
What probably started off as just a simple means to stay connected and socialize has now become more of a platform to display a life that we not only wish we had, but also one we want others to think we have. It’s almost like one of those games where you have to build cities from the ground up only in this case, you’re building your virtual Facebook life. Let me give you an example. A close family member got married about 4 years ago and I had lived with them for a while. Unfortunately theirs was not a match made in heaven and the fighting began very soon after marriage. The fights continued to escalate until it came to a point where they both accepted that this is what the rest of their lives is going to be like. It’s sad and unacceptable in this day and age but to some people, the external appearance of perfection is more important than inner peace. Add to that the constant passive emotional blackmail by family members about how a breakup would affect their hard earned social status and you not only have a couple that has continuous altercations but a deep set resentment for each other. They even fought during their anniversaries, birthdays and have played a big part in my aversion to the M-word. But it’s a whole different story on Facebook. There are pictures of trips, new houses, new cars, smiling friends, special dinners etc. , people commenting on how good they look together and how happy they must be. I was quite surprised when after a particularly bad fight, they went to a dinner party and later posted happy smiling pics of the party the day after. Either there was some really good makeup sex or I’m missing something.
I don’t mean to judge anyone. It would be wrong for me to assume that just because they have shouting matches over where to put the TV, resulting in one of them walking out (literally…but she later came back), that they can’t have a great relationship. Every relationship is different and maybe they like theirs so tumultuous. But I’ve noticed other people Facebook their feelings away following situations they wish were not real. Even a few days back, a close friend called me frantic and crying. She had been having some marital issues for a while but hadn’t mentioned anything in a while so I assumed things were better but I was wrong. She had finally decided to leave him. She was a mess and it took me more than an hour to calm her down but she maintained that she was close to leaving the marriage. A few hours later, she started sharing old pictures of her and her husband (we’re all friends from school) with captions like ‘good times’ and ‘<3’ etc. I don’t know if it helped her feel better or change her perspective but everyone who saw the posts were ranting over how they were the perfect best-friends-to-soul-mates couple. She responded positively to the comments.
These and other similar examples have lead me to believe that the influx of copious amounts of happy posts and pictures on Facebook is inversely proportional to actual happiness. This is just my observation as a long term Facebook user (and stalker of course!). It’s almost like the happy contents posted on the page, the likes and positive comments, are a way to escape reality temporarily, a transient high that allows a temporary escape from the harsh reality, much like a narcotic. This feel good drug is legal, cheap, easily accessible and apparently harmless. I say ‘apparently’ because one can escape reality for so long.