The more I use Facebook, the more miserable I become (and vice versa). I’m not the only one: heavy users in particular are unhappier, lonelier, meaner, and so on.
Why is that? And why, then, do people keep using it?
This comes down to the most subtle and interesting conflict at the heart of Facebook: user versus user. Let me explain, via a little story.
Facebook is really just the digital version of a facebook, a printed book with everyone’s headshot and a brief bio – where they came from, went to school and what their hobbies are – given to students at prestigious colleges and universities.
I went to such a school, and at the beginning of every year, we’d grab the facebook and devour it. Who was that pretty face? Man, look at that dork! Doesn’t that person look like a nobody, a monster, a sycophant? Everyone spent hours with their friends going over it. Why, exactly?
We were too young to know it then, but what we really doing was performing social comparisons. After doing this, we placed everyone on a pecking order based on prejudicial judgments made according to the few superficial attributes that were in the facebook – a face, a smile, a name. But those verdicts made it difficult for us to get to know our peers as people. So. Allow me to ask again: what were we really doing?
Social comparisons are me-versus-you interactions, not me-with-you or me-and-you interactions.
And every kaffeeklatch, bridal shower and drinking party is the same thing. That’s just what human society is, a constant and consistent game of one upmanship. Don’t people know this?