Does the use of social media, a tool designed to create closer connections between friends, breed envy instead?


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Kathryn Wright Profile
Kathryn Wright , Online business Manager, answered

Many of my friends have termed Facebook 'Boastbook' as they say that they only go on there to show what their children have been doing (only if their children have been doing exceptionally well of course). Similarly I load up pictures of my nights out and 'Instagram' my nice meals. I guess this is all some form of proof or affirmation that we are living life and showing other people that we are interesting and not boring. Although as we all know, posting too often probably suggests the opposite.

The difficulty we had when redesigning Blurtit is deciding which human traits we wanted to appeal to. We are keen for people to share knowledge and be helpful, but not to shout others down or make people feel silly or stupid for asking the question they have. It's also important that people do form a community, as without the sense of others listening and being appreciative, we would end up with an online version of lots of people in a room shouting about what they know, but with no one listening to each other.

Undoubtedly, this is how all online communities start, however, I fell Facebook especially has fallen foul to breeding jealousy and envy and has become more and more about showing a false side of your life. Overall it breeds attention seeking behaviour. Many people I know who get hundreds of 'likes' for posts, purposefully post such offensive content, it affects how you view them in real life, although I am yet to see this side of them in actuality.

As the article you refer to states 

"Let’s choose community. Let’s stop comparing. Let’s start connecting" 

and I completely agree with that philosophy, and really hope that is what we manage to achieve on Blurtit.

In general, I feel the narcissism of Facebook can be too time consuming and very addictive. Should you wish to monitor your time, try A friend of mine used it and after looking at the results, came off Facebook entirely!

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Kathryn Wright
Kathryn Wright commented
*interesting not ferreting (spell predictor)
Melinda Moore
Melinda Moore commented
I rather liked "ferreting"! Spell predictor comes up with some real classics...
Lily Bradic
Lily Bradic commented
I think Facebook is useful for keeping up to date with what's going on, and seeing what events are coming up. However, this also happens on Twitter - except people tend to be less narcissistic on Twitter. Facebook, for some people - probably the insecure ones - is just a way of showing off. It can be useful for keeping in contact with people you wouldn't feel comfortable talking to in a more intimate way (on the phone, or by text), but I rarely use it to talk to my close friends or family (unless they're online, and we use the chat feature).

I think Facebook breeds vanity more than jealousy - people posting countless photos of themselves and almost advertising their life - at least, portraying it in a way that makes it seem superior to everybody else's. I don't find myself feeling envious or jealous of people on Facebook - if they want to go on about how fantastic their life is, I tend to assume that they're compensating for something. If their life really was that perfect, they wouldn't feel the need to go on about it all the time!
Adila Adila Profile
Adila Adila answered

Now you see there's an argument to be considered here. The real use of facebook is to connect with friends from your past, you know the old school days etc! But in reality it is used for the wrong reasons, with people sharing abusive and offensive content to each other and violating privacy laws, its all a bit hectic on there really!

When I was on facebook I noticed that having many friends was a big issue even if you didn't have a clue who most of them were! It seems rather silly to me, but we all know that we cannot expect people to use social networking in the correct manner. This was the whole purpose of it. We stalk people on twitter, we find out what they're doing, saying and if we find they speak inappropriately about the things we love and live (or about us) then we will confront these people on facebook and get our own back. Now thats when it gets unhealthy. Using social network sites to spark a feud, is this how intellectual our race has become? Is this how we were meant to be evolved to act like?

Thats why I left facebook, too many people adding you just to keep on eye on you, too many arguments would start on there, the many facebook bullying stories I've heard at my school , its ridiculous! I think it has something to do with the theory of 'Deindividuation', being part of a group and feeling anonymous and thus increasing your chance of aggressive and verbally abusive behaviour due to the thinking that you are faceless and unrecognisable.  I believe this because , lets assume perhaps somebody online (or on Facebook) decides to voice their opinion on something or someone they don't like, a lot of other people agree with this person and this makes them more likely to continue with their abuse. It makes them feel part of a group, it reduces guilt. In the same way a popular person on facebook will not be afraid to say what they want because if they have a lot of friends they are reassured that they will be fine and have people to stand up for them when needed. It makes them feel superior and faceless. Although they may have a picture of themself, they will still feel faceless because they are online and this reduces their self awareness. We wouldn't expect people to act like this in the real world now would we? Would any of these young people that abuse each other online , do it face to face in the real world? Its more unlikely, because then one is recognisable and more easy to be blamed and targeted for their own wrong doings.

Whilst on twitter it can be similar but because twitter does not have as many features as  facebook  , people are less likely to throw abuse around however this does not mean it doesn't happen. Because it does. There are many immature people in this world. Whilst I'm on twitter I realise because the main purpose of twitter is too connect and share what you are doing at the specific moment it makes it more user friendly! On facebook you update your status, talk about your feelings, and comments and likes are the main issue of abuse. However on twitter its just a simple 'What you are doing' type , and a way for groups and organisations to get together and spread what they love. Its much more business orientated too.

But abuse lies everywhere, its just a shame we have to resort to go online to hurt and abuse others. Remember the Riots in England? It also fuelled from online organisations. Again the result of deindividuation.

Thanks for reading!

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Melinda Moore
Melinda Moore commented
Sorry for duplicating Kathryn's answer - we must both have been writing our comments at the same time!
Adila Adila
Adila Adila commented
Ha! No problem Mel! 8) And Thanks I'll do that when I'm free, need to finish my essay off!

Sorry for getting confused, I'm not the brightest crayon in the box! Clearly! 8)
Melinda Moore
Melinda Moore commented
Not your fault we confused you! Sorry about that... Look forward to reading your Q&A, when you have time to write it.
Amanda Kamugisha Profile

Really interesting answer Addilynn, especially the theory of deindividuation (I've learnt something new today too, thanks). There is a lot of online behaviour that people would never dream of doing in 'real life' and Mel's comment is a distressing example of such behaviour.

Facebook's original intended use when it was brought to the masses as a tool for keeping in touch with old friends is a genius idea. I've lived abroad for a sustained period of time twice now and Facebook has been an indispensable tool for keeping in touch and also keeping abreast of developments in friends' lives through their photos etc since they are all dotted around the world. I've felt able to, in a sense, remain a part of things for, as Kathryn argued above, Facebook is a great way to record what we do. Although Skype or a good old fashioned phone convo is always the best way to keep in touch, time differences and full time jobs means such occasions are few and far between. I also find that when it comes to speaking with friends after a long silence, we save a lot of time on having to list what has happened because we've seen pictures or status updates. Instead we can get into the details of things and have a proper conversation. It's a great way to maintain close friendships when you are miles apart.

However, the line in the sand between this use and the unhealthy stalking of others' lives is a very faint line. And in rare cases, and I do believe the provocative Facebook bullies are in the minority on the site, this does escalate into something more sinister.

Facebook has indeed become hecitc but I think I will continue to use it long into the future because for me it is such a useful tool. As our societies become more global and I personally continue to travel I think I would miss out on a lot of friendships without it.

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Adila Adila
Adila Adila commented
Thanks and you're welcome. I agree that facebook is useful for the people who use it correctly. It connects you with your old friends, nothing wrong with that.

However something needs to be done of the abuse and I know this is stereotyping but most of it comes from young people. Of course this also means that young people are also more targeted because they are more vulnerable. When I was on facebook there were people that were seeking to groom young people online. It was horrifying.

The problem lies here : Because adults use facebook, young people then also feel the need to use it. We/they feel left out. Now adults cannot stop using it just because of the effects it has on others, that would be silly and unfair. But action needs to be taken, and it lies in the hands of everyone.

I see your point though. Its a great way to keep in touch!
Melinda Moore
Melinda Moore commented
Thanks for this, Amanda - and great point about how keeping up with the general events in friends' lives via Facebook can enable us to then talk in more detail when we actually speak in person - which seems to be increasingly rare, as our 24/7 culture gives us all busier and busier lives.

That's exactly how I use Facebook - as well as to reassure friends and family that I'm still alive, if I've been out of contact for ages (though I must admit I don't use it anything like as much as I used to, these days).

I too found Addilynn's comments about deindividuation fascinating, and what she had to say about the steps she's taken to try to get it addressed. I'd like to hear more about that.

People do seem to be abandoning Facebook in droves at the moment, though - so it will be interesting to see what happens next!

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