So I’m casually looking through my Facebook (FB) Newsfeed only to come across a Facebook friend who’s put up yet another post about her day: “Headin’ over to the grocery store. I’m going to pick up some taco shells before taking my walk.” WHY? Why does this person feel the need to give us the play-by-play of her day? Well, the way we each respectively use FB has a pattern. Once we understand the motive behind that pattern of behavior, the behavior itself makes complete sense.
While there are so many great ways to use FB, many people use it as a coping mechanism for their uncomfortable feelings. Be it because something upsetting just happened to them or because an old wound was triggered somehow, FB gives us another outlet on which to release our hurt. Unfortunately, Facebook is often mistakenly used to feed our wounds as opposed to healing them and FB posts end up being a manifestation of low self-esteem, disappointment and feelings of lack and failure.
Here are three cluster types of Facebook status updates and what they might signify from a psychological perspective. If you see yourself in any of these, we’ll talk about the therapeutic work you need to use to move forward.
- “Wow. People are so selfish.”
- “I now know who my friends really are. Thanks.”
- “I know what you did. You can’t hide from the truth.”
Can anybody say, “passive-aggressive much?” Individuals who are passive aggressive are avoiding conflict. Often times, they do not believe their interaction with another will survive conflict. They maintain that they will not be heard or understood. Therefore, to release pent up anger and frustration, they’ll indirectly express themselves, and in this case, they’ll do so on FB. If this is you, you need to explore your fear and avoidance of conflict in order to be able to express what you want and what you need in a deserving, assertive, and healthy way. Tell them what you need to their face – you deserve it!
- “OK. The kids and I are ready to hit the mall before going to the pool.”
- “Up early today for yoga and then off to my yearly checkup.”
- “Jumping in the shower before lunch with grandma.”
While there are many reasons explaining this pattern of play-by-play posting, one psychological interpretation is that this person has a fundamental belief that they are not important and/or not supported in life generally. In feeling unimportant and/or unsupported, asserting their activities to their FB friends, first, commands attention. The FB user thereby hopes that the attention received will morph into support and acknowledgement for what they are doing. If this is you, you need to somehow realize that you are already important and supported, and everything you do does in fact matter…so stop trying to validate it all on Facebook!
- “The hospital made us wait for 6 hours today. This is so not fair.”
- “Great, now I’m sick. I can’t catch a break.”
- “My boss has added yet another file to my pile. Will this ever end?”
If posts like this happen infrequently, it’s all good; we are all allowed to have bad days and to feel sorry for ourselves once in a while. However, when every single post includes this type of statement, we are dealing with victimization. With posts like these, the victim is projecting their beliefs that life is hard and no one really cares for them. They are stuck in the doom and gloom of life not believing (or not wanting to believe) that positive outcomes and experiences exist. They essentially do not have enough self-love to become empowered about their future. If this sounds like you, check out our blog entry entitled “Guiding Cinderella from Victimization to Empowerment” for some tips on how to get yourself out of victimization.
Now, I just discussed three patterns of FB usage but as you can imagine, there are abajillion. Always posting happy pics? Endlessly posting pics of you in big groups of people? Only posting on FB to honor the death of a person or the birth of a person? All of these patterns could signify something about what you are feeling and believing about yourself. Think about it. When you post something on Facebook, you know that a multitude of people will be seeing it. What are you getting from the type of post you wrote? What is the psychological or emotional pay-off for what you posted? You are really the only person who knows. If your wounds are manifesting in your FB posts, it’s up to you to call yourself out and get the help you need. Here are some tips on how to be real on FB.
- Your emotions will dictate how you perceive things on FB. So if you go on when you’re sad, you will interpret more posts as depressing. Therefore, log in when you feel good, confident, and healthy. You will see everything through the lens of ‘happy’ and everything is sure to look better.
- Don’t look for it to help you. Tend to yourself first and then take your Facebook break.
- Make a rule for yourself to only post and react to things that you genuinely need, want, like, teach, and are inspired by. Put your truth and honesty out there as oppose to catering, caregiving, competing, and keeping up with other people.