BY ADRIENNE ROBERTS
Published February 23, 2012
Spring break starts today. For those of us not going anywhere — myself included — this can be quite a sad experience. It’s especially bad when you open up Facebook and are suddenly bombarded by beaches, tans and people having more fun than you somewhere far warmer, far away.
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In comparison to some of my friends, my Facebook is quite lackluster. I have yet to upload one picture, my information section is severely incomplete and the last status update is from 11th grade when I thought it was appropriate to say, “Long car ride…txt me please.” Maybe the word “tragic” is more fitting than “lackluster.”
I’m in the minority in this disregard for properly updating my Facebook page. Many of my Facebook friends have lovely statuses each day describing how great their relationship is, how everyone should be a little less cynical about love or, my personal favorite, look how smart I am, I got this amazing internship. Seeing all these updates, it’s quite possible to leave Facebook feeling depressed and inadequate.
So, it was no surprise when a recent study from the University of Houston found a link between college students’ time spent on Facebook and depression symptoms. Another study similarly found that the more time Facebook users spent on their news feed, the lower self-esteem they had afterwards.
At its core, Facebook is a tool for social connections. Timeline, pages, groups, chat and messages all serve to aid dialogue between individuals and groups. Users have a multitude of options to communicate with family members, specific friends and various acquaintances.
With all these options available, I find it astonishing that the statuses are still relevant. Facebook friends aren’t always exactly friends. From accepting a friend request from that person you talked to once in a lecture, to begrudgingly adding your bratty 13-year-old sister, friends may not be the appropriate word for those who have access to our page. Then why do people feel the need to share every thought with them?
The answer is that Facebook is one of the easiest places to cast yourself in the best light possible. Want to be perceived as funny? Spend a few minutes crafting a status from the script of today’s Daily Show. Do you wish your family and old friends from high school thought you were really successful? Well then, highlight all of your accomplishments and never, ever mention any failures.
Perhaps the easiest way to rid oneself of these overly enthusiastic Facebook users would be to just delete them. However, this may not always be an option. Sometimes, Facebook is the easiest way to communicate with someone, and to keep the channel open we tolerate their boasting and complaining.
It’s quite easy to get engrossed in the stories that statuses tell. But that’s just it — statuses are merely a fabricated and often false biography of one’s life. A status must be taken with a grain of salt because that annoying couple that professed their undying love through their keyboards is probably currently arguing, hiding behind a public Facebook mask.
In an ideal world, Facebook wouldn’t really matter much for most people. Communication would be direct, and you would have to do more than just stalk someone’s information page to know his or her life story. But this isn’t the case in today’s world. Facebook is now an important social tool used for sharing world news, maintaining contact with people from other countries and bringing people together for valuable causes.
We need to take a step back sometimes, and think about what separates truth from fabrication, and what is appropriate to express to every single one of our ‘friends.’ Statuses are becoming irrelevant and if we can all treat them as such, Facebook might just become a little less annoying.
This week, as I spend spring break at home, you can find me applying ample amounts of self-tanner and crying myself to sleep while looking at old vacation photos. But you wouldn’t know that from my Facebook.
Adrienne Roberts can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.