Opinion

Facebook makes you depressed and annoying

Quit posting: studies show more time online leads to greater unhappiness

Facebook sucks. It literally sucks our lives away. It makes us feel worse about ourselves. It allows you to judge others from afar while making you feel inadequate. Study after study has shown the social media site’s negative effects.

A University of Michigan experiment, for example, showed that more time on Facebook meant more unhappiness for users. The average user spends 30 hours a month on the site, and you can be sure college kids are on it a hell of a lot more; minute differences in online behavior — say, uploading too many pictures — can make people dislike you as a person.

I’m hardly alone in disliking Facebook. A May report from Pew showed that 94 percent of teenagers dislike the site. But, like all those people, my time gets siphoned away by mindless scrolling, chatting and updating.

Why we are on Facebook is understandable. It’s human to want to know what others are doing and to show others how you’re doing. It’s not always a bad thing, either. If you got a new job, great! If you want to share a funny story, pictures from an amazing vacation or something cool you found online, great!

The occasional update — which, in social media terms, means once or twice a day — that is uplifting, interesting or otherwise contributes something positive to those who see your post, is welcome. People want to see that stuff.

But there’s another side of Facebook that seems to proliferate. It’s people desperate for attention or maybe who just don’t get why the site exists. It makes sense, too — Facebook’s for attention, and pity is a form of attention too.

Still, I don’t want to hear every detail of your horrible day, or worse, some vague hint of how terrible you’re feeling. Actual tragedies are an exception — commemorating the loss of a loved one, letting people know you’ve been in an accident; that’s fine. By doing so, you build a larger base of support, which does make you feel better.

But do I really need to hear about your concussion or some stupid song lyric about your boy problems?

Worse yet is the mundane. I don’t care if you finished a chapter in a book or about the paper you have to write. It doesn’t impact me.

I get that people want attention, but not all attention is good. People like you less if you clutter their News Feeds with inane or negative posts. If you’re on Facebook for friends, do them a favor and stop posting stupid shit.

Facebook will always, I think, make you a little lonely. Even positive things do that — if your friend’s having a great vacation and you’re not, that’s a little sad. If your friend gets a girlfriend but that girl happens to have been your girlfriend, that sucks.

That, though, is life — it’s kind of a zero sum game. Facebook’s making our disparities more obvious, but it’s not fundamentally changing anything. Honestly, how much do you actually like that friend who just comes over to whine about his or her problems anyway?

Views expressed in the opinion pages represent the opinions of the columnists.