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February 24, 2014

My love affair, and break-up, with Facebook

(Continued)

And then something happened. I started to notice that whenever I logged on Facebook, I logged off feeling depressed. I didn’t have a “career” job yet, I had gained a little weight, my boyfriend was busy playing twister with teenage girls, and all my close friends had moved away. But it seemed like everyone else in the world, or at least all of my Facebook friends, were doing big, earth-shattering things all the time. It was hard not to compare myself to the owner of every profile I came across.

“Wow, she has an awesome job!” I would think. “Those two hang out all the time and are so close!” “That looks so fun!” “She’s traveling around the world!” “They had a party and didn’t invite me?” 

These thoughts would creep inside me and slowly morph into “She’s prettier than me … They have more friends than I do … I’m worthless!” 

My confidence would consistently plummet every time I logged on. It was toxic.

This might seem overly dramatic to you, but it’s a feeling that a recent study showed is actually extremely common among Facebook users my age. It has frequently been referred to as FOMO, or “fear of missing out.” The Public Library of Science did a study last year that shows that the more people use Facebook, the worse they feel and the more unhappy they are with their lives in general.

The study was conducted by Ethan Kross of the University of Michigan, and Philippe Verduyn, of Leuven University in Belgium. More than 82 young people were asked to complete a questionnaire on their smart phones five times a day, answering inquiries regarding their daily Facebook usage and how they felt from minute-to-minute. Participants who frequently used Facebook actually felt worse and were less satisfied with their lives over time.

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