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Thursday, 19 June 2014

The Facebook Complex.

In the early hours of Thursday 19th June, the impossible happened. Some took to Twitter to prepare their followers for the 'apocalypse' and 'impending rapture'. It was a social media crisis like no other. That's right, +Facebook had crashed and its 1.3 billion users had no idea how to preoccupy themselves - instead, they took to other social media platforms to declare their outrage. Sky News has reported that the half an hour blip is said to have cost the network 'hundreds of thousands of dollars.'
This seems like a ridiculous amount of money for just a thirty minute crash but such is the popularity of Facebook. Not every social network has had an award-winning movie made in its honour. Facebook is the place where most of us document our everyday lives - I've had an account since mid-2008 and it's amazing to see just how much the site has developed in that time. Your Facebook profile is like your online journal, documenting your successes and sharing aspects of your life with friends and family. That's one of the real benefits of Facebook, you can still feel connected to people even when you're separated by thousands of miles.
But there in lies my problem with it. Facebook is deceptive. Its success lies in the fact that its users can present their best selves to family and friends, even their followers. Facebook allows you to portray the ideal version of yourself -  the one who goes on glamourous nights out, wears all the best clothes, who's surrounded by equally perfect people, and is in a flawless relationship. It doesn't include the the bad days; unless you're one of those people that post cryptic statuses that says they don't want to talk about it but clearly do because it's been posted for everyone to see! Your profile doesn't capture your nightmare relationship with a boss/colleague, your angst over having gained a few pounds, or the time you failed an exam. For me, Facebook is only there for the good times - not the inevitable bad.
But I'm not going to sit here all high and mighty, saying that I don't use Facebook. That would be a lie. I haven't had any activity in what seems like an eternity and I don't remember the last time I posted a status. Instead, I compulsory check my News Feed. Most of the time, I'm not even interested and just end up feeling like a bit of a stalker. I'm not even in contact with most of my Facebook 'friends' anymore. It just all seems so fake to me - their activity doesn't tell me anything about who they are as people.
Necessary cringeworthy Facebook photo.
Rather unexpectedly, Facebook created problems for me as angsty 13/14 year old. At that age, all I wanted was to be accepted and included in things. My best childhood friend had ditched me for the 'cool' group and I was really hurting. I know this a pretty #firstworldproblem but I'm sure a lot of people that age can relate to it. Every time I saw photos of her drinking and partying with her new friends, it was painful. She had moved on to people who I thought were better than me. I felt such an outsider - I was quite literally sitting in front of a computer screen, looking at these photos and wishing I was there. That's why I think Facebook can be dangerous - if I'm honest, I still sometimes feel like that 14 year old girl. My profile is incredibly boring of late. But at the same time, I've found that starting this blog has given me a distraction. This is a creative outlet that I can focus on - it's takes up the mental energy I spent pouring over my News Feed and has turned it into something positive.
Undoubtably, Facebook is an amazing tool for staying in contact with those most special to you. It's great for sharing life's special moments - birthdays, graduations, family occasions, etc - with the people in your life. Yet, if you're anything like me, it's best to take it with a pinch of salt. Of course it's interesting to see what your Facebook 'friends' are up to - but don't compare their experiences to your life. My News Feed at the moment is jam packed of people travelling the globe on their gap years. I'm at home, working a part-time sales assistant job just willing October to arrive so I can start university again. But this is my path - I've had a slightly different experience to most people I know. If I compared myself to everyone I have on Facebook I simply wouldn't function. I'm not an avid user so of course my life is going to look mundane next to the girl who spends her life clubbing in London's most glamourous hotspots. For me, using Facebook wisely is about appreciating its benefits but not getting sucked into a jealousy game.
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