Does Facebook Breed Unhappiness?


Its Sleep Month, my darlings. That means no work for a month, and time to re-energise my brain with books and movies and ideologies. So far, so good, I’ve pretty much regained my olden time sleeping habits of bed at 5-6am and waking up 2pm! I know my body was built for being a creature of the night, how else can you explain its stubbornness in sleeping during the sunlight hours?

As for the brain activity, its comforting to know that it still works and seeks knowledge when it gets to live outside of the 9-5 hours. I am now expanding my quest to anything and everything interesting, within reason. So book, movie and philosophy strain recommendations are all welcome! For the record I am currently half-way through five books, Brida – Paulo Coelho, The Art Of Happiness – Dalai Lama & Howard Cutter, Awareness – De Mello, Tarot Wisdom – Rachel Pollack and Men & Women – Kevin Childs.


I’ve been thinking about Facebook and why its detrimental to the self. I think Twitter and Myspace also apply, Friendster if its still in use, and all those other profile page type websites (blogs too?). If my research is correct (its usually not) then happiness is a state of mind that can only be obtained from within, without reliance on any outer source. I’m blending De Mello with the Dalai here, so bear with me, but we’re trying to be content with what we have, and that satisfaction raises our general state of ‘meh’ to one of ‘life’s pretty cool yo’.

(I’m going to digress for a second, I did an assignment for web journalism the other day on the everlasting love thing I blogged about in March, and my lecturer critiqued my writing as sometimes sounding ‘too academic’! What the damn fuck? Me! The most inarticulate, swearing, personal story blogger of the seven ISP’s ‘academic’?? You best be trolling, fool! Anyway, maybe I do, I’m not sure, but I’m going to try and combat it if I can. ‘Academic’ is a voice for journal articles and the Discovery Channel, not for me.)

So, moving on, it occurred to me that signing into Facebook shifts your mental focus from whatever coherent thoughts you were having, to being completely and almost mindlessly angled to what others think of you. You apply for their acceptance of friendship. You wait for comments on your page, your photos, your status updates, your applications, quizzes, groups, interests, favourite quotes.. It goes on and on. You refresh your page to see what new things people have done in that minute to your profile or their own. Its almost hypnotic.


It reminds me of high school. Suddenly, all the idiots you never cared about have access to judge your life all over again. And sure, its nice to be in touch and see what everyone is doing, but if you really cared you’d already know, right? Its the popularity contest, the beauty contest, the coolest person contest (was that ever a contest?).. You’ve undone all your good work of distancing yourself from peoples opinions, because the very existence of an account brings the social affirmation aspect with it.

Or is that the weak way to look at it? A truly enlightened soul would enjoy an account without a care in the world of who accepted or who commented. But therein lies the problem. The majority of us are not enlightened, and are not already internally happy. We are the ever-unsatisfied consumer, haunted by images of celebrities and athletes, dealing with the issues of our shrinking self esteems and capitalist oppression. Facebook is the perfect device to feed into that. Its the validation thing. You have to always update your profile/wall, just like you have to update your wardrobe/household items.

What do you think, unhealthy? Or fine in moderation?


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24 Responses to “Does Facebook Breed Unhappiness?”

  1. TDW Says:

    I think you’re taking Facebook too seriously. If happiness comes from the inside and Facebook is making you feel shit, then it’s your internal perspective on Facebok that is wrong, not Facebook. It’s YOU who cares about all this stuff. Facebook doesn’t aim to make you care.

    That last paragraph, I thought you were about to say “You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your fucking khakis. You’re the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.”

  2. The Mutant Says:

    sure, its nice to be in touch and see what everyone is doing, but if you really cared youโ€™d already know, right? My attitude towards facebook exactly.

    If I want to know you then I’ll know you – if its reciprocal things will advance, if not they won’t simple.

    I like to think that I blog for me first and foremost (which is true when I do self-indulgent automotive stuff) but I can’t deny that getting the approval of others isn’t a great feeling. It all boild down to the omportance you place on particular things. Achieve the correct balance for that is the path to true happiness.

  3. LuLi Says:

    TDW – I am definitely taking it too seriously, but its something worth thinking about. Already there have been reports that sites such as facebook and myspace are changing our generations thought processes to be more self-centred and lacking in concentration. People use them every single day, they must be having an effect on us.

    And you’re wrong, Facebook does aim to make you care, before the new templates were administered, the ‘wall’ was a small box on the bottom of your page, the rest of it was taken up with applications and games you used, whereas now the wall is the entire page. Someone, at some point, in that corporation decided that what you did was no longer as important as what others said to you.

    It is all about mind frame though, as I said before, if you were enlightened it wouldn’t matter what you did on fb, you’d be happy either way ๐Ÿ™‚

    Mutant – Definitely, its like a pat on the back to get a comment on your blog, and thats what they are for right? To encourage debate and push agendas you believe are significant to the forefront of other peoples minds. And I think everybody should be allowed the right of reply, especially when its news-related because it opens you up to others opinions.

    It is all about the balance though, you have to be able to take the comments and accept them, but still write in your own way.

  4. TDW Says:

    FB is also handy to track down attractive people in your class to check out photos of them. Because during lectures they are so god damn distracting.

    Who’s with me?

  5. TDW Says:

    It doesn’t necessarily aim to make you care just because it gives more screen space to what you care about (people care about their walls more than other things, so it was a likely progression to be made – not to mention it was a hint from the success of MySpace). It’s our own insecurities and self-focus that make us think other people are reading our walls.

    But who is honestly reading and judging (other than my brother who then tells me Mum I was stuck in the city all night with no way home, or the time I mentioned the chocolate cock thing… regardless)? Do you regularly judge other peoples things and take mental notes of when people are not responding to their status updates and thinking “ha! loser”, when in fact there is a good chance that person is thinking just that (without the “ha!”).

    It’s that same old thing about “you wouldn’t care what people think about you if you knew how little time they thought about you”. It’s just magnified into one useful website ๐Ÿ™‚ Where are these judgers and why should we care? It’s all in our minds!

  6. Insanity540 Says:

    I’m a facebook addict who unfortunately is enough of a consumer to also have an iPhone (compounding the problem by offering instant access). I would have to say your ideas have merit, but I mainly only use it to check out the photos from another night, or get to know someone I just met. There will always be the element of face-stalking, but that’s what you get when you share your profile with someone.

    At least one thing I pride myself in is making sure I don’t update my status more than once a day. I don’t want to have a constant rambling of my thoughts/days events….thats what twitter is for LOL.

    I’m actually pleasantly surprised when people mention things I’ve said or done on facebook. Just this morning I was catching the train in with a girl I’m just starting to get to know and she mentioned something that I had said on facebook. One of my old school friends got addicted to Guitar Hero because I was ranting on about how awesome it was.

  7. LuLi Says:

    TDW – You know I think the like button and the ability to comment on everything has a part to play in it being aimed at judging.. It doesn’t really matter whether they are, just that they can.

    Insanity540 – It is pleasing for people to take note of what you do and say, thats what I mean.. Is that the part you find addictive? On the other hand, what does it matter if you enjoy that people get to find out more about u anyway..

  8. Ray Dixon Says:

    โ€œDoes Facebook Breed Unhappiness?โ€

    Dunno Luli, but Twitter breeds fckwits. (Please tell me you don’t use it)

  9. LuLi Says:

    I don’t, I don’t get it.. There’s no way I’d want ppl to know all the boring things I did all day.

  10. Marty Says:

    It was interesting of you to wonder about if blogs perhaps have the same effect, since blogging is very much your thing.

  11. gullybogan Says:

    Blogs are different to MySpace and FaceBook, IMHO.

    While blogs serve as a therapeutic way for the writer to get things straight in their head (by writing it out of their system), popularity sites are just that – popularity focused ego trips.

    I reckon that if someone is getting their personal validation from how many “friends” they have on a popularity site, that’s leaving them wide open to unhappiness.

    Plus, they’re creepy, those sites. Real people look you up and shit. I couldn’t stand that. “Hi – i used to know you in grade three… wassup?”

  12. LuLi Says:

    Marty – Well all the familiar symptoms are there.. Commenting, personal space to represent the self, community of people to read ur stuff. But, I must say, after all my lazy blogging it is such a pleasant surprise to see ppl still checking in to say hi.

    Gully – True, I think that because blogs are more of an exploration of ideas and opinions, which may be strongly opposed, it turns a blog into a different category. You don’t know if ppl will like what u say at all, and its less of a popularity contest and more of a nerdy type thing (not that we’re nerds!!1!zomg) coz its about intelligence and being a crafty writer.

  13. Domino Says:

    I don’t see the point in it all. People use the comments thing to talk to each other when they could easily sign into MSN and talk instantly.

    On a creepier note my friend’s boyfriend’s ex decided to make a fake profile to try and be her friend on Myspace. She even made up a story on how they met!

    And Twitter is alright…well its stupid…but following Sky News is good.

    Book recommendation: Emergency! This Book Will Save Your Life by Neil Strauss. (I think I’ve mentioned it).
    Movie: Ghost in the Shell series (also probably mentioned it but it’ll get you thinking)

  14. LuLi Says:

    Domino you excellent man with your anime and book recommendations! I am definitely watching Ghost in the Shell, even though I will have to come up with a crafty way to nullify my video store ban, and I’ll do my best to find the book. From my googling I see it will come in handy in case of any zombie situations, always valuable knowledge (they’ve been on my mind lately too..)

    Oh your poor friend.. teenage love and the internet does not mix!

  15. scribble Says:

    i use facebook like a blog now. i admit it took a while to see how it worked( and i mean buttons and uploading pics etc) but its interesting to see what people make of it. its laughable to think of some computer nerd controlling your personal reactions to what are just virtual representations …avatars=real life pics, status updates=smart alec remarks you make via email……just by fiddling a bit with the template. dont think people arent researching this as we speak.

  16. LuLi Says:

    I’m looking forward to all the research, its fascinating to see how changes to the world via the internet are affecting how we think & live!

  17. insanity540 Says:

    note to self… check “notify me of follow-up comments”.

    I enjoy the fact that I can select which people I share my information with, and spread important “me news” instantly and effectively. Its also good for finding out about that interesting person you met the other night and maybe arranging/conversing more. I don’t consider myself a “friend-whore”, but I just realised I’ve reached 250 friends… time for a purge I think.

    As for twitter… I’m finding it to be a good way to do a microblog. I can share links I find interesting quickly, comment on topics quickly and anywhere via iphone. Whilst it won’t replace an actual blog, I’m finding I have less time devoted to writing up an interesting post, than to share something with my thoughts quickly. Perhaps modern life has reduced my “attention span to something that can only be measured in nanoseconds”. Bonus points if you can name which comedy movie I alluded to there.

  18. LuLi Says:

    That’s another part I like about fb, its easier to connect to other who may have slipped through the seams of your social world otherwise. Now we can just click on the friend we know them through and find them.

    You alluded to baseketball! I agree there though, they teach us in journalism to be careful to make sure to include slices so a story can be summed up in one sentence or two, because today’s reader has no time to pour over an article they don’t care about. And even on the news, we don’t get in depth coverage or sufficient background to stories, we’re expected to piece it altogether ourselves, that’s why a lot of people don’t really understand whats going on in the world or what one event means in relation to connecting issues.

  19. Insanity540 Says:

    yup, I have a lot of friends on facebook that I don’t currently have their mobile numbers for etc. I just organised a present for a mate’s birthday and managed to do that quickly and effectively because I used facebook because I had them all as friends.

    I think the short attention span may have always been around (hence why headlines exist/existed in newspapers), but with the online age, people have less time to focus on any one thing. So short/interesting things will always dominate a long winded essay. There is even an online term for it; tl;dr (too long, didn’t read).

  20. LuLi Says:

    Ahhh yes tl;dr, the signature of our generations apathy! The online age and its super connectivity and fast speeds have done nothing to increase the patience of users, but on the other hand it has put limitless information at our fingertips so we can’t really complain I suppose.

  21. Lil Says:

    I use Facebook to play “Fish life”. I check on one or two friends and then I go onto twitter to see if my favorite authors and artists are doing anything, and to check one or two other friends. Then I move on to one or both of my blogs.

    I disagree that Twitter “Breeds fuckwits” There may be “Fuckwits” On that site but there are some lovely people on there as well. Generalizations tend to fall flat.

    I’m fascinated that I can have friends from all over the world that I can chat with so conveniently. I didn’t have this at your age. I really wish that I had.

  22. LuLi Says:

    In the aspect of connectivity, all of these sites are pretty phenomenal, I have to admit. The constant possibility of interaction and the speed of it has definitely had big affects on the way we communicate. Our generation is pretty lucky to have it, but I think we should be wary too.

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