Jan20

Facebook Hiatus Week: Three

Posted by Kelly Kirkham

After two weeks Facebook free I’ve decided that I can really do this! I’ve hit my second wind and I’m ready for the long haul. Read on for more info on my 30-day resolution to be Facebook free.

At this stage of my self-imposed Facebook deprivation I have come to terms with the fact that I really do like Facebook and the role it plays in my daily life. I have finally accepted that to be included with my social circle and the events occurring in their lives, Facebook is a must. This revelation takes place after processing the other four stages of grief.

Denial: “I don’t need Facebook, it’s not that big of a deal.”

Anger: “I hate Facebook, you are too distracting and completely addictive!”

Bargaining: “Maybe Twitter will work instead?”

Depression: “I’m so bored….. I miss my newsfeed, I miss my friends….”

And finally Acceptance: “Okay, maybe Facebook is kind of a big deal and I really do like it.”

This became apparent to me over the course of the last weekend. I was presented with many examples of the importance of social media, but here are the most telling examples:

Example #1: I had been unaware that two of my friends were hosting birthday parties for their children. I was not prepared for such parties because I did not see the Facebook invite. Two Saturdays in a row now have been spent rushing to find a present for last-minute schedule changes. If I had seen the invites I could have taken steps to be more prepared (sorry for being late Layla!).

Example #2: A few of my friends have been missing in action due to vacations that I was not aware of. While not extremely concerning, I did miss out on the warm weather photos and the jealousy that such pictures would have invoked (palm trees? Really Kellie? It’s 20 degrees at home!)

Example #3: During my Facebook Hiatus people have been having babies (people tend to do that) and have been posting photos, all of which I have yet to see. I love new babies! Since I haven’t had the access to photos that Facebook normally provides, I have no idea what these beautiful babies look like (yes, this makes me crazy!).

From my examples it is easy to deduce that I miss my Facebook friends and miss witnessing the important events in their lives whether the events are good or bad. I enjoy learning about the ups and downs of my social media friends, even if these events could lead to added stress in my own life. This stress is referred to as the “Cost of Caring” and is not an uncommon feeling according to Pew Research Center’s latest study.

The cost of caring was originally thought to add negative pressures to individual’s lives but Pew Research’s new study of 1800 individuals says differently. According to their analysis “frequent internet and social media users do not have higher levels of stress” and that women who use social media actually have lower levels of stress.

There is evidence that social media users can pass stress to others and that it is thought of to be contagious, but this stress is not associated with the frequency of social media use or the number of friends on social media. Pew says “The relationship between stress and social media use is indirect. It is the social uses of digital technologies, and the way they increase awareness of distressing events in others’ lives, that explains how the use of social media can result in users feeling more stress.”.

The cost of caring is created through the concern for loved ones and the increased awareness of events within loved ones’ lives. In other words social media can be seen as a way to be a better friend by increased levels of involvement and through the emotions evoked through this involvement. So don’t shoot the messenger because it really isn’t Facebook’s fault.

The study also shows that women who post regularly to social media can lower stress during stressful times by sharing the events with others through social media use. Think of social media as a village: when one member is stressed the other users lighten the load by taking on a small portion of the stress.

Another Pew Research study shows that when “compared with non-social media users and those who are not as active on Facebook, this person likely: has more close friends; has more trust in people; feels more supported; and is more politically involved.”

Broad patterns for women include:

 

  • Overall, women tend to report more stress than men. But, those women who use a number of digital technologies to communicate with others tend to report less stress than women who do not use these technologies.

 

  • Women are more aware of stressful events in the lives of their closest friends and family.

 

  • Social media use is related to even higher levels of awareness of the stressful events that unfold in the lives of people they know.

 

  • Awareness of stressful events in others’ lives is a significant contributor to people’s own stress. It is the only factor that we found that is common to both social media use and psychological stress. The number of undesirable events associated with stress is greater for women than for men.

This explains my slight feelings of alienation and the distance I feel from the events in my social circle. If I keep this up, who knows how much more my life could deteriorate! I am, of course,  being over-dramatic but I have noticed a difference in my weeks without Facebook. Suffice to say, I am looking forward to February when I can resume my normal social media activities. Until then I will remain steadfast to tell the tale of my life and times while remaining Facebook free.

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