No one needs to be told how popular facebook has become. It’s where I post my blogs so that people actually see them, and it’s a great way to share pictures and interact with friends.
But there is also a dark side. Lots of digital ink has detailed the facebook-depression effect. We hop online, and it seems like everyone else’s life is so much better, funner, and more accomplished. Of course, most people only update when they’re doing something good, fun, or accomplished. So it naturally creates the perception that Sally from high school has an amaaaazing life, and as we scroll down the newsfeed in the darkness of our basements, it’s easy to feel inadequate.
This is simply the nature of facebook. But there is something else too. Facebook harnesses the internet for social purposes, and that’s actually a really big deal. 20 years ago, people lived where they lived and knew about the lives of the people in their physical communities.
Now, facebook brings us information about anyone we’ve ever met. Gone is the standard of locality. All of a sudden, we can see the best and the brightest things anyone does anywhere. Our standard shifts from our homes to the entire country or even the world. And the bigger the pond, the smaller the fish…or so it seems.
Adding to this new national/global standard is that we, culturally, have pushed beyond basic success. Maybe it’s just where I’m from in Northern Virginia, but it doesn’t seem to be “successful” anymore for people to grow up, get decent jobs in their towns at the local hardware store or plumber, raise a family, and generally be good people.
Now “success” is about advanced degrees and traveling the world. But this type of success is not readily available. It generally requires affluence just to attempt it. Thus, a lot of us fall short. And the reality is that this isn’t really a shortcoming; most of us are just fine. But because of facebook, and the new national standard of viewing our peers, it can seem that we have fallen far, far behind.
All this is to say that most of us have plenty to be happy about and to want to share. The changing standards of success don’t have to phase us as long as we remember, in the words of John Paul II, that happiness and success are about “being,” not about “having” or “doing.”
The most important thing is to develop virtue, show care for those around us and to love God. The joyful reality is that success, so understood, is readily available to everyone.
(Coming soon, some principles for getting the most out facebook and the good things it has to offer).
How do you use facebook? Does it ever make you feel down? Are there ways that you avoid that?