Do you live your life on social media? Do you feel that everyone else has a more exciting life, as you have discovered so on Facebook? Do all of your employees spend a significant amount of their clocked time on social media? According to a poll by Cowen and Company, an average Facebook user spends 42 minutes of their time per day on Facebook.1 Facebook-provided statistics from 2013 state that their monthly active users (MAUs) and daily active users (DAUs) in the US are at least 179 million and 128 million people, respectively.2 Given that the entire population of the US is 319 million, that’s a substantial proportion of the population.
Although Facebook has been enormously successful in capturing the market share they dreamed of, Facebook and other social media usages have started to generate novel problems. One such problem is social comparison. Upward social comparison is when you compare yourself to people who have either positive characteristics or are higher on the socioeconomic ladder. Although there can be benefits, such as being inspired to model their behavior, more often it leads to feelings of inadequacy, negative emotions, and lowered self esteem.3
Facebook creates a superb platform for upward social comparison. Since people are more inclined to share positive activities on Facebook, others who see it upward compare themselves, which can lead them to think that their lives may be inferior and less exciting. Maybe you have fewer friends on Facebook than your more popular friend. Maybe you’re staying in on a Friday night when you discover through Facebook that all of your close friends were invited out to a party without you. These can generate negative emotion, loneliness, and even conflict between relationships. Some research even indicate that these negative comparisons may lead to increased risk of depressive symptoms.4
In addition, Facebook poses problems for productivity, both on an individual and workplace level. While 54% of US companies ban Facebook during work, allowing employees to be on Facebook during work hours can result in an estimated 1.5% drop of productivity, with up to 77% of employees in the mix.5 Facebook users can develop compulsive need to check their Facebook feed since their Facebook friends or themselves may be posting constant updates, which can prove to be a problem for continuous workflow and productivity.
Addiction to checking and posting on Facebook has become a severe enough problem that psychologists have come up with the term & the diagnosis called Facebook Addiction Disorder (FAD).6 FAD affects people across demographics. In extreme cases, people have lost school acceptances, jobs, families, and friends over Facebook addiction and/or inappropriate postings on Facebook. If you are having trouble sleeping and going on with your daily activities because of Facebook, if you have anxiety over thoughts of not being on Facebook for a day, spend more than an hour on Facebook a day, and stop work to spend time on Facebook, you may be showing symptoms of FAD.
However, the use of Facebook and other social media is not without merit. It provides a platform to connect with old and far away friends, keep up with what’s going on with your acquaintances, and catch up on current trends. It’s an easy way to organize an event, express yourself, and reach out to a lot of people with little effort. Facebook and social media may also be the new tool to attract customers to your business, or keep them engaged and updated. Online marketing through social media has become a crucial component in virtually every marketing strategy. From a company standpoint, to prevent from Facebook use becoming a problem, you could give incentives to your employees to not use Facebook during working hours. Instead of an outright ban, encourage employees to promote the company and participate in call-to-actions.
If you feel that Facebook rules your life instead of the other way around, take baby steps to take control of your time. By acknowledging that your time on Facebook may be a bit overboard and infringing upon your daily tasks, you have already taken a step towards taking charge. You don’t have to live your life on Facebook–get out and interact with people, spend quality time with your loved ones, and devote more time to cultivating your hobby. Utilize social media as a tool to invite others into your life, passions, and endeavors. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover that your perceived and real quality of life has improved without spending too much time on social media.
- Cowen and Company poll. http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Younger-Users-Spend-More-Daily-Time-on-Social-Networks/1011592. Retrieved July 31, 2015.
- Facebook’s Cutesy Annual Report To Partners Reveals First Country-By-Country Mobile Stats. http://techcrunch.com/2013/12/29/facebook-international-user-growth/?_ga=1.146465654.394777348.1401209004. Retrieved July 31, 2015.
- Vogel, E., Rose, J., Roberts, L., Eckles, K. 2014. Social comparison, social media, and self-esteem.” Psychology of Popular Media Culture.
- Feinstein, B., Hershenberg, R., Bhatia, V., Latack, J., Meuwly, N., Davila, Joanne. 2013. Negative social comparison on Facebook and depressive symptoms: Rumination as a mechanism. Psychology of Popular Media Culture.
- Gaudin, Sharon. 2009. 54% companies ban facebook, twitter at work.http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9139020/Study_54_of_companies_ban_Facebook_Twitter_at_work. Retrieved July 31, 2015
- Are you suffering from facebook addiction disorder. 2010.http://www.fbdetox.com/2010/11/08/are-you-suffering-from-fad-facebook-addiction-disorder/. Retrieved July 31, 2015