I read an article the other day that said spending time on Facebook can cause depression. From what they said, the problem is people scroll down through all the pictures and status updates of wonderful, happy, beautiful families and get sad because they don’t have the new car, the wonderful children, the engagement ring, the scrumptious dinners or whatever that these other people have.
Seems to me that what makes those people unhappy is not Facebook, but comparing themselves to others. And comparing yourself to other people is almost always a formula for misery. It is also the greatest and deepest falsehood we ever tell ourselves. Because you can bet that the wonderful happy family you are seeing in the photos is not always perfect and joyful. They have trials and tribulations, ill health, arguments, and bills like anyone else – they simply chose not to share that with the universe at large. Or maybe they are having a good week – and next week they’ll be venting about something.
Another thing the study said was that we think that going to Facebook will make us happy – but it has the opposite effect. I admit, I do often go to Facebook when I am having a bad moment. I go and I laugh at the silly cute cat/dog/horse videos or pictures, and I get happy and excited about other peoples good news. Sometimes I find an interesting article, a beautiful photo, a pithy saying that makes me laugh or nod in agreement.
I will admit that I went to Facebook a couple of days ago and got sad. It seemed like a number of my Facebook friends were facing health challenges. Several were in the hospital for one reason or another. But I took that opportunity to close my eyes and send them some distance Reiki healing – something I have recently learned and want to practice. I stop and give them blessings and send healing light and energy. You see, I know that that truly does work – for the prayers, blessings, candles, healing light and simple support of so many good friends on Facebook have gotten us through a pretty rough year in 2016. When it seemed like I would burst from anger and frustration at our messed up medical system, I vented at Facebook and got support, sympathy, met others who were dealing with much of the same, and even some good suggestions for things we could do, or how to lodge a complaint with the correct authorities. To tell the truth, it was good for me to simply get to vent, to get it off my chest, and to hear that others found some of the treatment we received as outrageous as I believed it was. And now, as with any social network, be it the neighbors or church, or Facebook, I visit my friends and I offer sympathy, blessings, and a shoulder to cry or vent on. It’s not so much that I owe it, as I want to be there for the people who were there for me.
I disagree with this study. I feel that Facebook is like everything else in life – it is whatever you make of it. If you read your friends and families good news and you’re reaction is envy, jealousy, and anger or frustration – that’s on you. Other people read their family and friends happy news and are totally delighted for them. It makes me happy to know my friends are happy. It gives me joy to see my friends or family succeed or accomplish something they dreamed of. But that’s me.
You know – I’ve been accused of always making the best of a situation no matter what it is.
What actually upsets me and makes me unhappy is taking surveys.
I work several hours a week for the Mechanical Turk and many of the better paying jobs are taking surveys. Many of those surveys are so slanted I want to reach through the computer and strangle the researcher. Dozens of questions like this; “Women should not be CEOs of major corporations because they are not emotionally suited to the work.” Agree, Disagree, Strongly Disagree. “Men are natural leaders. Only men should be in governmental leadership positions.” Agree, Disagree, Strongly Disagree, Punch Out Your Computer. Lately there have been a lot of studies that are clearly slanted to try and get you to say that women belong in the home and are not “fulfilled” if they don’t have half a dozen little children at their feet, and similar sentiments.
And then there are the studies that assume we all have approximately the same, perfect, happy Leave It To Beaver family situations – and if we don’t, then we are automatically unhappy, right? I filled out a survey today that asked me about ten times how much I loved my mother and I chose “not at all” like ten times. Bet I gave them something to think about! Now and again there is one that crops up where they invite transgender and bisexual people in – and then all the questions are slanted to try and get you to say you are miserable because you don’t have a “normal” relationship. “Don’t you wish you could be normal?” Yes, No, Go fuck yourself. What’s normal?
Not all studies are like that, of course, but there are studies like that floating around out there. So, as much as I like studies and the idea that we can understand others and ourselves a little better through research – I take that stuff with a grain of salt.
There are days when I open my Facebook page and all the news is sad. When they were turning fire hoses on the water protectors, or when Prince died. You know what I do then? I post a sympathy post, and then I close the page and I go do something else with my time.
When I get one of those sickening surveys – well it depends. If I am feeling strong that day I forge ahead, less for the 50 cents now and more to fuck with ’em. If I am having a difficult day, then I close it up and go find some other job to do.
I choose happiness. I choose not to be unhappy if I can help it. We all choose that every minute of every single day. You cannot control every single aspect of life – but you certainly can choose how you react to it, and whether you decide to deal with it, wallow in it, or walk away.
Not everything allows you to walk away. Not every thing in life is happy – but you can find the happy, bright spots. When we were going through all this medical hell with my husband last year they told me quite frequently that he would die. Well – he’s still here. And every morning when I wake up and he is here, I’m happy. Then we go deal with whatever crap the universe might have cooked up to throw at us for the day. I have only survived my life by grabbing on and clinging like hell to every moment of joy the universe offers me. For half of my life they were pretty few and far between. I think it made me stronger, and more appreciative of the good things.
But that’s another post altogether.
(Post on how abused children seem to be happier adults, stronger, and are we really doing our children a favor to give them a perfect life?)