I was beginning to think that I was the only one on the planet who felt that the Facebook phenomenon was strange. Of course I am on it, but barely. I just find the entire format rather chaotic. I'm not sure what to do with "friends of friends" who want to be my friend. I don't know why everyone has to share all their personal information with everyone else.
What happened to intimacy? What about keeping private matters for a handful of real flesh and blood friends? With all that in mind, I found an article by Michael Austin in Psychology Today quite fascinating. Titled "Quitting Facebook Could Make You Happier", he refers to studies which have shown that "people on Facebook believe that others have happier lives than is actually the case."
Essentially it means that individuals are comparing their own lives with the "Facebook" version of the lives of others. Facebook becomes a vehicle by which people can put their best face forward and even exaggerate their own "wonderful" lives. Others become dissilusioned, jealous and otherwise miserable.
In a study at Utah Valley State University, students who actually interacted in person with other students were less likely to think others have it better.
Real life teaches us that no one's life is as ideal as we might imagine. Perhaps that truth is more apparent when we interact with others in person. We can perceive facial expressions, watch body gestures as we share the truth behind our personal joys and sorrows.
We quickly come to understand that no one gets through life untouched by some degree of suffering and that the shared human experience makes us all grateful for what we have and humbled by the opportunity to experience the gift of being alive.
When we interact in person with others there is a sense of shared space which confirms intimacy and our common humanity. It is the source of what may evolve into friendship as we used to understand the word.