Sophomore Advice: Social network simply creates social anxiety

To Facebook or not to Facebook? In today’s socially competitive and homogeneous society, it doesn’t seem like that really is the question at all. It’s more a matter of what kind of things should we do with all of this Facebook power.

Every time we log into Facebook we are reminded of its motto: “Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.” Mark Zuckerburg certainly gives us this opportunity on a silver platter. Along with all the benefits and possibilities Facebook can offer us, there are some drawbacks that can drive you crazy. We all know of the many distractions Facebook offers and the countless hours we spend procrastinating on it in our daily lives. Yet along with never getting our work done in a timely manner, there is another con about Facebook: It can cause us a lot of stress.

A new study from the researchers at Edinburgh Napier University in the United Kingdom found that, “The more friends you have, the more pressure there is to update your status and stay active on the website.” This study does an accurate job of describing the dissonance we can all feel with Facebook at times. We may not see it as a stressful activity because we all voluntarily socialize easily on it, yet there is a lot of pressure surrounding it.

Facebook is a very interactive website, and it should be in order for us to stay connected with others. On the site, we are presented with many ways to keep in touch with our peers. Whether it’s our relationship status, education/work status, personal information, photo albums, profile pictures or an up-to-date status report about what we’re doing at that very moment, we are always left with something to update. This alone can cause stress in our social world. Not only do we spend hours on our computer on Facebook every day, some of us even have access to it on our phone, making us more likely to update things twice as often. Seeing everyone else constantly changing and updating anything and everything on their page from day to day, even minute to minute, can cause us to feel pressured to do the same and keep up with the pace of Facebook.

The researchers from ENU conducted online surveys of almost 200 students and found that the majority of them, despite the stress it brings, are scared to leave Facebook because of the possibility of social alienation. Because the site has grown and encompassed our whole social world, we are left feeling that if we don’t keep up with it, we will fail to thrive as established members of society. As college students, we already experience plenty of stress and pressures from our parents, teachers, schoolwork, jobs and so on.

So, maybe we should all take a break from Facebook and a break from the hassle of always feeling the need to update things that actually are fairly insignificant. And without the distraction of seeing what’s on friends’ minds at every possible second, we may have an easier time getting all of our daily tasks done when they need to be. We don’t need a social website that is supposed to be enjoyable to be added to our list of everyday stressors.

– Kristy Grinere

Sophomore journalism major

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