The Stresses of Social Networking

We all remember when Facebook arrived on the scene, changing the way we communicate forever, and even inspiring an award winning movie, but as time goes on there is increasing evidence indicating that Facebook does more harm than good in many cases.

From turning all of us into casual stalkers, to selling our private information to greedy advertisers, Facebook has become the ultimate distraction and eliminator of what previous generations knew as “privacy.”

First went productivity, then privacy, and now peace of mind: the more Facebook friends you have the more stressed out you will become, according to a study conducted by the University of Edinburgh in November.

The study surveyed over 300 people, mainly college students around the age of 21.  On average participants were a part of five social circles: friends, extended family, siblings, friends of friends, and colleagues.

Back when Facebook participants were mainly older teenagers and young adults, having hundreds of friends made one something of a legend. In a time when about 55 percent of parents are friends with their children on Facebook, and over half of employers say they have chosen against hiring someone based on their Facebook pages, how to portray oneself online is becoming more and more of a conundrum.

The more social circles allowed to view a person’s Facebook, the more difficult it is to build a profile that will please everyone. Those late Saturday night party photos your friends tagged you in will not be received with nearly as much enthusiasm by your parents or employer.

Every person added as a friend, whether they are a relation, employer, or just an acquaintance, increases the likelihood that any post will be considered offensive by someone.

“Facebook used to be like a great party for all your friends where you can dance,

drink and flirt. But now with your Mum, Dad and boss there the party becomes an anxious

event full of potential social landmines,” Ben Marder, an author of the report.

Of course, when a phenomenon involves as many people as Facebook does, issues are bound to arise, and some tools on the site are actually useful in maintaining contact, organizing large groups, and sharing information, but inevitably there will come a point where the good outweighs the bad unless each of us finds a way of regulating our own Facebook usage. In the end it will always be, and always has been, about striking a balance between the enjoyment of sharing with friends, and the easy accessibility of what we post on the Internet.

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