Facebook and I have a complicated relationship. I can quite easily spend hours flicking lazily through my news feed, taking nothing in, giving nothing away. There is something undeniably interesting about other people’s lives, especially people you went to school with and maybe haven’t seen for years. It’s fascinating! I have absolutely no idea why.
But Facebook undoubtedly has a dark side.
I think the first time Facebook turned nasty for me was the first time I fell in love. Like, properly, deeply, madly in love for the first time in my life. I was also severely depressed, in the midst of my first depressive episode, and this guy became a lifeline for me. So seeing him on Facebook with his girlfriend? Not nice. I’m not going to go into it because I think most of have experience with getting a distinctly unrequited crush and stalking that person online. Facebook was just another tool for me to break my own heart with, something obsessively used to torture myself with images of his gorgeous girlfriend and their wonderful life together.
Finally, that dark episode passed and I realised Facebook wasn’t good for me. It made me into someone laden with self-doubt. Why wasn’t I as skinny as her? Why didn’t I have as good a job as everyone else? Why did they all seem to be so much happier than me? It became somewhere I was scared of, somewhere I would panic at the thought of.
Fortunately, a small part of me still cared for my wellbeing, and decided that enough was enough. I decided to take a break. That break turned into a three-year sabbatical and my god, was it fun. No jealousy of other people’s seemingly perfect life, no comparing myself to all the skinny, gorgeous girls I was somehow friends with, and best of all – no more torturing myself over him.
So, a few months ago, I decided to return to the strange place that is Facebook. For some reason, my first instinct was to find him. Fortunately, there was a deeper instinct that told me this was a very bad idea. Turns out that second instinct was the right one to follow.
That side of Facebook isn’t one I want to delve into anymore. I don’t want to use it that way. I would rather focus on the people on my news feed, people I know and some of whom may actually like, and who are really incredibly interesting.
Facebook has turned into something very positive for me. Maybe the friends I have on there have grown up, maybe there’s been some shift in Facebook etiquette. I don’t know. But there has definitely been a change. Gone are the kids going out getting drunk every night. Gone are the jealousy- (and nausea) inducing couple-y pictures featuring mushy captions about undying love. Those same people have jobs now. Their own homes. Babies! And they talk about real things, like politics and the news and, dare I say it, mental health. Honestly, I’ve been shocked by how much I’ve seen people talking about mental health on my news feed, whether talking about their own or sharing a news piece about it. These people aren’t afraid to talk about their own issues, and it’s an amazing thing to witness. All I can say is if you are someone who discusses something as private and frankly scary as your mental health on somewhere as public as Facebook, you are so brave and wonderful and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.