Is Facebook Getting You Down?

Those of us who spend any time on Facebook understand how it is negatively impacting our mental and spiritual health. There are a few people that I would describe as mentally tough-as-nails! In the last few weeks, I have had conversations with several individuals who have admitted that the tone on Facebook is demoralizing. Several have had to take extended breaks from Facebook, only to return and find nothing has changed. PERHAPS THERE NEEDS TO BE A SUPPORT GROUP FOR FACEBOOK DEPRESSION! I state this cynically, but I am also QUITE SERIOUS!!!

The worst enemy of the spiritual life are the emotions. How do I know this to be true? “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23). The Hebrew literally reads, “Protect your heart, because all of life’s issues involve it.” Obviously, the heart is the seat of the emotions. In the Greek, the word for inward parts included the heart but located in the bowels. This was because the bowels and our emotions are integrally related.

The gut is generally one of the first places in our body that sound off to being over-stimulated—stressed out! We all know that someone can literally pee or poop in their pants if they’re really frightened. It’s an emotive response to outward stimuli. Bad news is popular and that’s why smut magazines thrive. In fact, most people cannot live without the sensational. However, IS IT REALLY HEALTHY FOR US TO BE CONSTANTLY STIRRED UP? Two books, “Emotional Intelligence” and “Stress and Adrenaline,” both address the detrimental effects of chronic stress in our lives. It should come as no surprise that disease is simply the combination of dis and ease. Today, there is much that disrupts our ease, and we humans suffer from a lack of it!

The news media is one source, and their target is our interest for bad news. Do we have a natural negativity bias? (I can hear someone say, “No way, I don’t allow myself to go there!” Come on, for God’s sake, be smarter! God warned us to guard the heart for a reason.) Psychologists claim that we are drawn to the negative, sensational, stories and that’s what our news sources are targeting. Social media is an even more subtle for of negativity bias, since much of it is coming from our friends and contributing to our political bias. Facebook employees are tracking our interests and then targeting our newsfeed. We make their job easier every time we like and comment on issues.

My wife is my best friend and has my best interest at heart. I am reminded of a quote from the 1800’s (I am paraphrasing), “Having a woman friend is a wonderful advantage. … A woman will seldom counsel a man to do a shabby thing.” Admittedly, it bugs me that my wife questions how much time I spend on Facebook; after all, I am an adult! Did you just hear my ego blaring? I use myself as an example to make this point: perhaps it would be well for all of us to have Facebook exposure parameters? Some of us know it is very addictive and some of us don’t believe it is. For those naysayers, YOU ARE ADDICTED TO LYING TO YOURSELF! Of course, Facebook is addictive, and IT IS MEANT TO BE! The more you and I use Facebook the more advertisers are addicted to spend billions of advertising dollars. It literally pays Facebook the more we use their social medium.

I am going to confirm what some probably already suspected—I wrote this as a reminder to myself. I also started writing it because I was inspired by a young lady—wise beyond her years—who wrote her friends on Facebook, indicating that she was taking a break for SELF-CARE REASONS. So, there will be times that I, like Kayti, will do self-care and step away. So, if I seem to be missing, I am—and maybe that’s a hint for you to take a break as well. By the way young lady, thanks for the reminder. See, you were missed, and you encouraged me to follow your example.