“Unlike a mirror, which reminds us of who we really are and may have a negative effect on self-esteem if that image does match with our ideal, Facebook can show a positive version of ourselves,” said associate professor Jeffrey Hancock. “We’re not saying that it’s a deceptive version of self, but it’s a positive one” (CNN Tech).
There has been a growing concern that our generation’s dependence on Facebook and other similar social media networks to determine our self-worth has reached unacceptable levels. How can we define ourselves as unique, interesting, artistic, clever, cool, etc. while differentiating ourselves from everyone else who might hope to get the same image across?
Facebook is formatted such that you can learn almost everything and anything you want about your connections. Naturally, the idea of such openness is intimidating to many, and privacy groups, like the Electronic Privacy Information Center, have come together and garnered some influence within the government (All Things Digital). What these groups might want to consider, however, is that companies like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are ultimately around to maximize their net income despite the efforts these organizations go through to convince you otherwise.
Ultimately, Facebook is not an inherent right but a privilege.
I admit that all of this sounds ominous, but we must not forget that there’s a bright side to it all. With a few exceptions, you, and no one else, have almost complete control, as a Facebook user, to control the content of your profile. It is up to you to determine which celebrity/athlete/artist pages to like, whether or not you want to share your education and employment specifics, whether or not you will keep other peoples’ posts on your wall and comments on your pictures, and even whether or not others will be able to access your pictures from your page. Finally, it is up to you to decide what picture will summarize your online presence. I’m referring, of course, to your profile picture, often the first thing you notice when you click through to your friends’ pages.
I took the above quote from Jeffrey Hancock from an article on CNN Tech. The story covers Hancock’s report regarding the correlation between Facebook and self-esteem in a study of 63 students (click here to be linked to the report itself). It turns out that subjects who spent time on Facebook returned more positive feedback about themselves than those who were either staring at a mirror or a blank computer screen during the allotted time (CNN Tech).
“For many people, there’s an automatic assumption that the internet is bad,” Hancock said. “This is one of the first studies to show that there’s a psychological benefit of Facebook” (CNN Tech).
Does the research speak for itself?
Either way, perhaps some of us should consider lightening up.