Over a week ago, I introduced the cover story in the current edition of The Atlantic by Stephen Marche entitled, “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” (May 2012, pp. 60-69). As part of his presentation, Marche incorporates a longitudinal study by Moire Burke that involved 1,200 Facebook users.
Marche challenges Burke directly on the emotional and psychological traps some people fall into when using Facebook:
“I mentioned to Burke the widely reported study, conducted by a Stanford graduate student, that showed how believing that others have strong social networks can lead to feelings of depression. What does Facebook communicate, if not the impression of social bounty? Everybody else looks so happy on Facebook, with so many friends, that our own social networks feel emptier than ever in comparison. Doesn’t that make people feel lonely?” (p. 67)
Burke’s response hits the nail right on the head:
“If people are reading about lives that are much better than theirs, two things can happen. . . . They can feel worse about themselves, or they can feel motivated.” (p. 67)
I was fortunate enough to learn very early in life the moment you start playing the comparison game you have lost. As businesspeople, as citizens, as family members, as colleagues, as leaders, as followers, as students, and just as people, there will always be someone who seems to do it better than you. So don’t make that your focus.
Get real! Get a life! You are who you have made yourself to be. And if there is anything about yourself you don’t like right now, then you are the only one who can fix it.
Personal and professional growth should be something we work on daily. Personal and professional growth should be independent of what someone posted–or didn’t post–on Facebook.
Facebook does not control who you are–unless you let it.
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