We all like to believe that once we go off to college, the outside world doesn’t exist. Goodbye Podunk town I grew up in, hello to the big leagues. But sadly, this isn’t the case. With the ever popular influence of social networks, frequent visits to Facebook could have you crying to return back to Nowhere, Ohio sooner than you think.
A recent University of Michigan study showed that college-aged students who visited Facebook more often than others were more likely to be sad and less satisfied with their lives. So if you visit social networks to catch up on the latest episode of the Regina George Diaries, it could have you jumping off the second floor window of your dorm before you could say, “like.”
When visiting Facebook, we like to say that we spend the majority of our not-so-free time on this time guzzler due to boredom. Most of us would rather see what Becky Stevenson is doing than work on our latest economics homework.
“In college if I had a really big project to do I would go on Facebook for procrastination,” Lenicia Johnson from the University of California, Riverside said. Johnson would use Facebook the most during the school year to delay her inevitable workload, but when summertime rolled around, her active lifestyle stood in the way of her daily fix.
When paying a visit to our favorite social network, while some people use them as a way to pass the time, others out there in Sadtown use them as a measurement strategy.
“It could have to do with social comparisons — viewing one's Facebook wall and seeing lots of good things happen to other people could lead one to feel worse about themselves,” Ethan Kross, psychology professor and leading technician of the University of Michigan Facebook study, said.
“It comes with the self-confidence of the individual; people should focus on themselves,” Kamia Jackson from Cheyney University said.
In observing others solely as competition, not only do you diminish your well-being, but you completely ignore the great qualities about yourself. Why waste your life watching others live theirs?
“My life is my life and theirs is theirs,” Jackson said.
But sometimes, the life of others is not what it seems. Plenty of times when going out, you’ll see people who look miserable suddenly become energetic and ecstatic as soon as a flash appears. So really, who is having the fun? It doesn’t matter whether Regina George is wearing army pants and flip flops, all that matters is that you like what you’re wearing; you like who you are.
Though the University of Michigan study found that frequent Facebook users witnessed a decrease in moment-to-moment happiness due to social comparison, a different cause for sadness could be the case. “It’s possible that people with certain types of personality attributes might not display the result we observe, or might even benefit from Facebook usage,” Dr. Kross said. Extroverted personalities could be unaffected by their use of Facebook, or could be affected in more positive ways.
Sophomore Kasandra Limon from the University of California, Santa Barbara said that she found herself becoming upset over being unable to see friends and family while away at college. Likewise, distress from a site like Facebook could be ignited by the word choice of others. We’ve all been in that situation where some idiot with a computer tries to make a joke out of the death of the pope. With the popularity contest that is life and the cheap thrill of gathering "likes" it’s easy to get carried away slamming issues that are serious matters.
But whether you’re upset over the ignorance of others, homesick over your mom’s homemade apple pie, or jealous of the fact that Becky lost 20 pounds and you didn’t, the underlying commonality of the social networking blues is the lack of real life. Researchers found that the antidote from social media sadness is face-to-face contact. So if you find yourself crying over Regina George’s new man-candy, grab a friend and go get a slice of pizza.