Why Facebook Makes Me Feel Like A Loser

I'm sat here, in my dressing gown. My fingers are greasy from eating crisps all morning. My back aches because I spent all night playing a stupid video game. The gin hangover isn't helping either. My week off work has been a wash out. I didn't write any code, I didn't cook anything other than pizza, and I'm beginning to smell of used dish water.

I log on to Facebook - and this is what I see, all complete with photos of smiling people doing awesome things.

  • Melody checked in at Bury Lane Farm Shop "Stocking up on pâté :)"
  • Dan "First sky diving lesson. Love it!"
  • Lloyd "Sushi!!!"
  • Luke "Welcoming the birth of our new baby with some champagne"
  • Steve "not being a fan of either presents or parties, just receiving tons of messages on Twitter and FB for my birthday is pretty much perfect :)"
  • Ewan "Read my latest piece in Forbes magazine"
  • Laura "Red wine, cheese and live classical music... how else would one spend a balmy Australian summers eve?"
  • David "Amazing street art in New York City"
  • Andrea "Jason & I have gotten around to updating our relationship statuses on Facebook."
  • Lexy "London. Heathrow. Cape Town. All in 24 hours"
  • Gillian "Is loving being at Hotel du Vin, Henley."
  • Menna "This evening I bought a Le Crouset casserole dish before attending a pub crawl at which several people were dressed in onesies"
  • Helen "spent a very long time in the swimming pool today and might have to go to bed early to recover!"
  • Jess "This Knickerbockerglory may be the death of me!"
  • Kate "Planning a trip to see my astronaut friends!"

Literally everyone I know is doing amazing stuff! Sure, there's the odd moan about a crappy commute, or a missed Christmas present. But everyone is so unnervingly upbeat all the time.

I wonder what this does for our mental health? When all you see is the relentless cheeriness of all your friends, suddenly finding yourself miserable can be deeply distressing.

Your friends are always flying off somewhere exotic, and buying new cars, and having exciting careers. You just sit in your underwear wondering if visiting Vimeo rather than YouTube counts as a life changing experience...

It's no longer a case of "keeping up with the Joneses" - you now have to keep up with everyone you've ever met, no matter what the cost!

What we're overlooking, of course, is that Facebook presents us a rather one sided view of our friends.

Let's say your average friend only flies off on holiday every two years. With 100 friends, you'll see someone jetting off every week. All of a sudden, our view of reality is distorted. Our friends aren't all globe-trotters who do nothing but sip champagne in the first class lounge - but the steady drip-drip-drip of friends posting their adventures makes us feel like we're missing something.

Look through your photo album - digital or physical - and count the ratio of photos of people smiling vs looking grumpy. We want to remember the good times. We want to capture and share the brief moments of joy in our lives.

But all those perfect moments combine to a deluge of unfettered joy and love which, if you're not careful, can drown out any rational thought.

I'm not saying that people should post more depressing status updates, or that they should refrain from sharing their happiness. It's just that perhaps we, as a species, aren't yet used to dealing with a constant flood of our friends' successes. It can make even a little failure feel like you're letting down your entire social circle.

Looking through my Facebook updates for 2012 - I've been to some incredible countries this year, changed job, visited zoos and art galleries, had my work published, been retweeted around the globe, raised money for good causes, eaten at some lovely restaurants, won best in show at OverTheAir, drank expensive cocktails with a friend I haven't seen for a decade, been to a Beatles gig, and completed Angry Birds Star Wars.

I am, ostensibly, not a loser. So Facebook can fuck right off.


31 Responses to “Why Facebook Makes Me Feel Like A Loser”

  1. FJ!! van Wingerde (@fj) Image of FJ!! van Wingerde (@fj)

    Well, of course, Facebook ends up making you compare the endless complete video file of your own life with your friend's carefully edited highlight reels. This is a known phenomenon, and being well studied.

    It's why I make a point of posting the lows as well. Also, slowly unfriending people who don't interact with me.

    Reply
  2. Thomas Chen Image of Thomas Chen

    Great article! I think this article particularly highlights the largest problem brought about by social media - social media didn't bring the internet to real life, but instead moved real life onto the internet. And it's probably why a lot of folks like me wind up avoiding facebook as much as possible.

    Reply
  3. TK Image of TK

    I feel that the real losers are the people that can't seem to live their lives without broadcasting it to the world. In fact, I have come to the point where I wont date an active facebook user. I live in NYC, I have no need for the narcissism of facebook. How many true friends do you think Mark Zuckerberg really has? I would bet one...and he married her.

    Reply
  4. Liz Image of Liz

    Hahahahaha! "You just sit in your underwear wondering if visiting Vimeo rather than YouTube counts as a life changing experience..."

    Luckily (?) I subscribe to loads of depressing stuff as well, as I belong to groups trying to stop bullfighting and finding new homes for abandoned dogs, there are days I am crying over some sad emaciated/lonely/mistreated/dead creature before I have even had my coffee (is there any research being done about that? All the sad stuff we get via fb?). And one of my best friends (in real life & on fb) is right old moaner, so all in all, I think I'm fine ;)

    Reply
  5. Bryce Image of Bryce

    Are you so detached from reality to think that what goes on Facebook is the entirety of people's lives? Of course people only want to share positive things. Sorry dude but you ARE a loser. How's this for some negativity for you

    Reply
  6. Mrs.Taylor Image of Mrs.Taylor

    It never occurred to me to post on facefuck what I'm doing at all times, and I agree that it is rather curious as to why people do it and if they are in fact doing those things. As for the video game, pizza-eating extravaganza – that's awesome and I think its great when my husband does it. Defo not a loser thing to do – especially with everything else you've accomplished.

    Reply
  7. Rohan Image of Rohan

    You're not wrong. It's increasingly difficult and frustrating following people on Facebook as they talk up their life.

    Reply
  8. plastico Image of plastico

    you're totally right.
    see the link i've mentioned above.

    but on a personal level:
    why don't you give a shit about it when people (connected to you) are posting nice or depressing stuff on social media?

    did you have a great 2012? awesome!
    you did not? well, 2013 is going to be great.

    just don't care about what people are saying about their lives on fbook etc. if their lives would have been that great: they wouldn't even have had the time to tell YOU about it in on some sort of social media channel. they just would have enjoy it.

    they love their momentum. they live from it. but their self esteem tends to be that low, that they definitely need a role model or – maybe even better – a trendsetter to tell them if they are on the right track.

    they just need the right like or comment abouth their new partner, shoe, party, friend, restaurant or holiday destination etc.

    but they're just insecure. that's why they post this childish crap.
    they hope that you or someone else is giving them a legitimation or at least probs.

    well, sad for them.
    do you give it for them? that's very nice of you.
    but for yourself: do you need it?

    do you need appreciation from all of your XXXXXX facebook "friends"?

    i don't think so.
    best
    J

    Reply
  9. thepixeldeveloper Image of thepixeldeveloper

    Here's a nice bit of Academic research on the subject.

    Excerpt:

    "In his 1930 text Civilization and its Discontents, Sigmund Freud outlined the negative impact that he perceived technological progression was having on the contentment of human beings. He referred to all technology as prosthesis, an artificial organ attached to the body and used to fulfil a yearning for a missing component of the whole self. A device such as
    a telephone (still relatively innovative in the 1930s) served to accentuate a lack of physical and emotional proximity between two human beings. For Freud all technology represented a loss and the beginnings of a collective alienation that he perceived at the heart of the social domain."

    http://www.vanessabartlett.com/2012/07/16/589/

    Reply
    • Philip Image of Philip

      As I read the post above, I made a note to find some academic research on this. Then I found this in the comments. SO AWESOME! Thanks!

      Reply
  10. anon Image of anon

    I dated a woman once who, on coming home to my apartment, insisted that I was still in love with my ex (I'm not).

    Why? Solely because she'd trawled through years of photos on my Facebook profile of the two of us together, looking very much in love (we were, at the time).

    That feeling of capturing a moment can be very nice, but it can also be dangerous, and false.

    (It worked out in the end...)

    Reply
  11. Alan Image of Alan

    Its no longer just people on TV doing exciting stuff all the time. Now its everybody but you.

    Reply
  12. Pete Dooley Image of Pete Dooley

    Christmas was pretty wonderful on FB this year. Kids, family shots, hundreds of smiles.. Enjoyable to the max. Maybe some new "friends" might be in order.
    .... Says the guy who two days later had to reprimand all his gun nut "friends" that it might be to soon to post all their NRA "more guns and more slaughter will save the day" quotes.. *sigh*

    Reply
  13. Alison M. Gunn, Ph.D. Image of Alison M. Gunn, Ph.D.

    I woke up this morning to the crowing post of a multiply-published bad writer, who irks the hell out of me, so I understand where you're coming from, believe me... but it sounds to me like you had a week of completely abandoned self-indulgence. Enjoy it. It also sounds to me like before this week of completely abandoned self-indulgence (during which time you probably gave your already overworked braincells a rest) you were very busy. Fuck FB. It's the perfect medium for narcissists and overachiever-wannabes who thrive on making everyone else feel bad about themselves. Achievement is not measured by tweets or twits. "Status," as in "what's yours?" is akin to needing to measure one's dick in public. Unnecessary and crass. I like FB for business and advertising, because it's a great eyes-on venue, but that's it.

    Reply
  14. Camilla Image of Camilla

    Love your title. That's exactly what I put into the search engine! ha. I see all these people going out and having fun, tagging each other in pics, getting a lot of 'likes', etc. However, I can see where certain people will 'like' other pictures, then I post a pic within minutes and don't get those same likes...........ha. Understand? It bothers me. That sounds soooooo ridiculous what I just typed! Geeeeze. Then, when I do post a pic or post and most of the people commenting or liking it are people I never even talk with, and my 'so-called' closer friends don't comment, it upsets me. I sometimes wish Facebook just never existed. It feels more like a competition than a way to keep in touch......... :-(

    Reply
  15. grace Image of grace

    i agree that facebook makes you feel depressed and like a failure especially if you have depression or anxiety in real life. im in high school and when i see freshman getting over 200 likes on their profile pics im just like wow i feel devalued because i get like 10 while my friend just hit 100 so now i feel inferior because it seems like the world likes/approves of her more. also i hate when people post 20 selfies in a week, it's like you don't have friends you want fans... i think its a good tool to keep in touch or be able to contact people you haven't seen in forever though, even if you're just stalking them in secret. i deactivated my fb once for 5 months and it was actually worse because everyone had a fb and i felt more isolated from the social world. but then again when you post a photo or a status it's like AHHH im freaking out that it will get no likes, also keeping your wall updated is really stressful because it's hard to get a bunch of people to post on your wall regularly if you don't have that many friends. anyways i think facebook is like a ying yang thing, you need balance and tact and not to over do it but you should use it if everyone else has one because you can't run away from the social world altogether and expect to be happy.

    Reply
  16. Terry Image of Terry

    I only registered a facebook account because I had internet access but no phone, funny right? The intent was to keep in touch with my siblings. Well over the course of a few years, I've made a complete fool of myself several times on facebook. Trying to talk to women or meet that special someone always ends in failure. The real me can never live up to that digital persona. I've always had a bit of anxiety but facebook multiplies it ten fold. Whenever I actually need someone to talk to, it always ends in the destruction of that friendship.

    No one cares if you are having a bad day or relationship problems, even if you're hovering on the edge of suicide and can't get your meds. Now, if you are attractive and like to post pictures, people will be all over your profile. I know this is the way of the world but it is so very heartbreaking.

    Reply
  17. Anna Image of Anna

    I get bit down, when i post things on facebook and hardly anyone notices, its been like this for awhile now, and i think what is the point in it all??!! I'm there for them, but so called friends are not there for me. Found this out recently when i was ill too, hardly anyone asked me how i was feeling, i don't understand the total lack of friendship, all they care about is themselves i have found. so now i am not using facebook so much now, and keeping myself to myself more and doing what i want to do for myself. I am a caring and thoughtful person, but i dont seem to get it back, which is not very nice! Time to move on i feel.

    Reply

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