I used to spend a lot of time on Facebook. All through university it was the perfect way to show what a great time I was having. After leaving university it became a way to keep up with friends and check on what a great time they were having. While travelling social media use took on a whole new meaning. It was perfect to show everyone the incredible views I was looking at; oh here I am on a beach, here’s me with all my new friends, there’s a mountain, etc etc. It was completely showing off about my sunny new life in a self-indulgent and unnecessary way and yet I couldn’t stop – I continued to post photos and updates as if anyone cared as much as I did.
It was also great for keeping in touch with home and I will be eternally grateful to Facebook Messenger for allowing me to make international calls to friends and family for free – a truly wonderful benefit of the technological age we live in. Facebook also allowed me to connect with new friends and, thanks to status updates, I was able to meet up with new friends in different parts of the world (my best experience of this being when six months after meeting him in Fiji, a friend saw my status update in Melbourne and we were able to meet up and go to an Essendon AFL game together. Because of this chance status update I caught up with a friend I wouldn’t otherwise have seen and cheered on a team that I wouldn’t otherwise have watched).
Of course, I still spent overall less time on Facebook while I was away compared to when I was at home simply because I was out having fun and didn’t feel the need to spend down-time scrolling through the newsfeed. I checked on it occasionally when I had an internet connection but no longer knew the ins and outs of the everyone else’s life. Days when I hadn’t been online at all felt fantastic, like I had finally let go of my Facebook fear of missing out and I realised I no longer cared if I missed out on friends’ posts.
So, what’s my problem? Since I’ve been home I’ve noticed a few changes in me (for more on this, see here) and one of those changes is in the way I use social media. Or rather, the way I don’t use social media any more. You see, since I came home and have been unsatisfied with my general situation (not having a job, trying to find a job, not being on the beach…) I have been unable to go on Facebook. In short, I am bitter and cannot bear to view other people’s holiday photos, status updates of their latest travels, announcements of engagements or life updates of buying their first home with their significant other.
It’s not that I’m not happy for them. And I fully understand that social media is only showing the parts of a person’s life that they want you to see: the best bits. I realise I’m being irrational. And yet I can’t bring myself to log back on. I’m not at the stage of being able to see my friend’s check-in in a bar in Melbourne/island in Thailand or mountain in Canada. It’s pure jealousy and I can’t seem to get over it. I’ve retreated into being a virtual recluse, shunning internet updates so I can sulk in peace. Instead, I spend the hours I used to spend scrolling through Facebook writing posts about sulking that I’m not having all the fun. It’s frustrating that I can’t get over my jealousy and yet; I feel so much better for going completely cold-turkey. I only know about what’s happening in other people’s lives when they actually go to the trouble of telling me, and they do so because we’re close enough for me to care. I don’t have to feel inferior to others because I don’t have the glossy life that they have edited for internet purposes.
I’m not alone in this – studies have shown that regular use of social media makes people feel more lonely and depressed. I can definitely say that it affected me greatly when I first returned home and I’m not ready to venture back to it yet. I would like to, one day, be able to use Facebook occasionally and maybe even post things that I think are funny or of interest. But for now I’ll stick to anonymity in blog-world where I can choose what to read and when to read it. Probably during times when I’m not sulking.