This is part 1
of a 2 part series
I wrote earlier today on the negative effects of facebook on ones mental health. I argued that users of facebook subconsciously edit their profiles to make them look like they are having the most fun. The core of my argument focused on how someone who is already vulnerable for some reason could be made to feel a lot worse due to facebook. I concluded with the question "...there must be a positive way to use Facebook right?" which sets me neatly up for this post, which will look at the positive side of facebook...because there is one, otherwise we wouldn't all use it.
I start with what for me is the most significant reason, the feeling of belonging. We all need to belong. Maslow puts belonging as one of the most essential requirements for achieving self actualisation, and we use facebook as one way of satisfying that need. It's not just being on facebook because "everyone is on facebook", it's about there being a place for you on facebook...that could be as part of a group of friends, colleagues, or school mates etc. This is a deep routed psychological theory which is beyond me...so lets get onto some of the more practical reasons;
There are 2 reasons that i can identify for doing something. Firstly, i have to do it. Secondly, i want to do it. Generally i want to do something because its fun, or it satisfies me in some way. Whats fun about facebook, and what is satisfying about it?
I love a bit of banter...it's fun! I can probably get away with saying things to my friends on facebook that i might not face to face, and they tend to feel the same way. Social boundaries can be pushed because it is a fairly safe environment. This can backfire of course, and i have learned the hard way that you have to be selective about what you say and to who. Saying that, i have had the most fun on facebook in a private group where we all have fun pushing the boundaries in an environment that isn't necessarily public.
The best thing about facebook used to be that i could track down people i hadn't seen for years. There is nothing better than a good catch up. Old flames can be reignited, burned bridges can be rebuilt, and old scores can be put to one side. I took great satisfaction in seeing what friends from primary school had become, and sharing old experiences that made us who we are today.
Events. If you're that way inclined facebook can be a great way to organise events. A booze up round the local, crazy nights out, or more complicated events like the summer ball that i am oft invited to by my local law society peeps. Such events may have happened infrequently before the facebook era due to the cost and effort it would take to arrange. With facebook its easy, and therefore events can be organised on a more frequent basis should one wish.
This leads me nicely onto the development of relationships. Because facebook is an 'any time' social environment, a friendship that may have taken years to cultivate can develop very quickly. It is easy to find out about each others background, likes and dislikes. Be careful though, these relationships that seem strong on facebook may turn out to be weaker than expected in the real world. But enjoy the fun while it is there for the taking.
In my 'why facebook is bad' post i expressed concern about the isolated and vulnerable. I shared with you how i felt when i saw my friends apparently having fun while i was virtually bed ridden after surgery. The source of this is the passively broadcast content on the newsfeed. I find that selective use of facebook can make me feel positive during times when i may feel isolated. Direct contact with good friends who i know will cheer me up can reduce the feeling of isolation. Steering clear of the newsfeed, and status messages, i tend to use the private messages and private groups to communicate with the people who are important in my life.
I have now shared with you my two sides of the argument...is facebook good or bad for mental health during periods of vulnerability or isolation? It's not black and white...there are shades of grey.
You have now mastered both parts of the DJ Guide to FB. If you missed part 1, click here
What type of facebooker are you? Read more...
The 5 types of fb user.............