The ways Facebook changed us

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Facebook has only been around for 10 years, but the company that connected the world has drastically impacted our life and the way we experience things. Facebook has played a role in a number of political revolutions and most importantly it connects more people than any other single company ever did. Facebook has more than 17% of the world’s population actively using the platform.

If you are like 50% of Facebook users, you continue to check in with your friends on a regular basis. Although 20 minutes plus is the global average, people in the United States spend much more time than that, according to Facebook’s internal numbers. Last year, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the average United States consumer spends forty minutes on Facebook per day. Bottom line: Facebook takes up a lot of our time.

Researchers coming from different academic institutions including Facebook itself have carried out an escalating number of studies into how logging in to Facebook, scrolling through your News Feed, posting photos and statuses, and checking up on what your friends and relatives are doing can affect how you feel about yourself and your life.

Here are some ways how Facebook changed us:

  • Facebook makes us compare our lives with others: Research has drawn a correlation between Facebook use and symptoms of depression, thanks to our tendency to compare ourselves and our lives with our friends on Facebook. This study entitled Seeing Everyone Else’s Highlight Reels:How Facebook Usage is Linked to Depressive Symptoms” and published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, shows how the more time you spend on Facebook the more likely it is for you to feel depressive symptoms. Posts on Facebook very often present an idealised version of reality, this can lead users to compare themselves to others and think less of their own lives.
  • Our mood changes depending on what our Facebook friends post: In a study with academics from Cornell and the University of California, Facebook filtered the news feed including the flow of comment, videos, pictures and web links posted by other people of 689,000 users. One test reduced users’ exposure to positive content and another test reduced exposure to negative content. The study concluded that the emotions expressed by friends on social media influence our own moods. The researchers found that moods were contagious; the users who saw more positive posts wrote more positive posts, while those who saw more negative posts were more negative in their own posts.
  • Facebook changed the way we view privacy: The latest concerns over privacy arise from a Cambridge University study, which found that by “liking” Facebook groups or pages, users were unknowingly giving away far more information about themselves than they realised. Facebook knows our favourite sports team, hobbies, sports brand and what kind of movies and music we like. As the Guardian reported, the researchers were able to infer “race, IQ, sexuality, substance use, personality or political views” from the data – and so could anyone else who wanted to. Privacy issues arise because most probably Facebook knows more than this. It is not very clear what kind of data Facebook collected about its users. The privacy settings change very often making it very hard to keep up.
  • Facebook changed how we keep in touch: Facebook made the world smaller; it links people around the world regardless of differences and geographical boundaries. People across the globe can interact with each other within seconds of sending and receiving messages. Facebook has become an important tool for staying in touch with family and friends, as well as those you met briefly. Perhaps since your mum sees weekly pictures and posts from you and she feels the need to call less and ask how you are doing. When you go back home after a holiday or studying abroad, catching up with friends has become a less priority as they already saw it all on Facebook. High school and universities reunions have become redundant- you already know who got married, who had kids and whose career is doing well.

Facebook has become a major part of our everyday lives. It is a global phenomenon and it seems to affect everyone. People of all ages are signing up and fall into obsession with it. In a nutshell Facebook has changed us and the way we communicate.

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