Dear Tabulit - 11. Facebook Makes us Feel Bad and It Just Got Worse (Feat. Clearly Miss Herd)

Studies have shown that Facebook use compromises your well-being and overall mental health. But with the latest news of Facebook and its impact on the past elections, we could be far more compromised on many levels.

To illustrate the first point, here are a few comics from Clearly Miss Herd by Jennifer Herd.


While it is true that tools like Facebook connect us, they also make us feel bad. First, social media can become a mask that is ever scrutinized by others. We can be judged unfairly or not given the opportunity to be authentic when we make mistakes online. Second, the mask of social media can cause others to feel less about their own lives, especially when comparing themselves to social media celebrities and other curated feeds about how awesome life is.

What studies show

As per the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health:

Face-to-face social interactions enhance well-being. With the ubiquity of social media, important questions have arisen about the impact of online social interactions. In the present study, we assessed the associations of both online and offline social networks with several subjective measures of well-being. We investigated the associations of Facebook activity and real-world social network activity with self-reported physical health, self-reported mental health, self-reported life satisfaction, and body mass index. Our results showed that overall, the use of Facebook was negatively associated with well-being. The negative associations of Facebook use were comparable to or greater in magnitude than the positive impact of offline interactions, which suggests a possible tradeoff between offline and online relationships.
— American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 185, Issue 3, 1 February 2017

This is concerning enough. But recent events surrounding Facebook has take this to a whole new level.

Add (Russian) Trolls

We've had to deal with trolls long enough on social media. But did you notice how ugly Facebook got during and since the election? Yes, a lot of this is due to human nature and President Trump shoulders much of this responsibility. Yet, there are organizations out there that actually want to divide us using our beloved Facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg recently acknowledged and apologized for organizations like The Internet Research Agency, Russia’s premier “troll farm,” that has reportedly experimented with posts and events to get us all riled up about issues like immigration, terrorism, and LGBTQ rights.

All this "Fake News" became a problem and influenced our collective thinking. Zuckerberg was warned by former President Obama and at first the founder of Facebook said the notion was "crazy." But it's not hard to see that this just added to the problem of the impact social media is having in our lives. You yourself may have not participated, but when your feeds are filled with vitriol and outrage culture, eventually it takes an emotional toll.

The Solution?

There is no simple solution here. To cut yourself off from social media is not so easy. A lot of social media is very useful. But how do you stop the endless scroll addiction and manage the impact it could be having?

Try this.

Delete social media off your phone. Only use it at your desk. See what happens. Luckily Facebook Messenger is a separate app. And besides, if people want to get a hold of you, they can learn to text or call. On top of which, don't go to bed with your phone. Use an alarm clock if you need help getting up in the morning.

A recent article in Wired Magazine recommended the same thing.

Let me know how it goes!