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April 16, 2012 at 4:38 PMComments: 8 Faves: 1

The Seven Deadly Facebook Sins

By Erin Froehlich More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Id and Ego Blog Series

Hello and welcome back to Id and Ego – the blog for people interested by other people.

Today: Facebook.

Lately, the Facebook bug seems to have seeped over into the scientific world. About every few days now, there’s a new study related to the online network - how it affects us, how we affect others through it, how the way we use it reflects upon us and even what it’s doing to society as a whole.

Unfortunately, as a Facebook user myself, most of the findings are not in favor of its use. There are countless comics out there poking fun at the same things science is stating – albeit in more abrasive ways. One that rang painfully true compared Facebook with Twitter:

facebook vs twitter

But honestly, I don’t think it’s Facebook or the offending people’s fault!

It’s just that while Twitter limits users to 140 characters, Facebook’s posting possibilities are unlimited -and more chances we get to share, the more chances we get to turn others off. 

Even worse?  No one wants to be the one to tell that certain friend that what they are doing is making people not like them. As a the author of a recent study on Facebook and low self-esteem pointed out, at least when we do these things in person, we get some clue they didn’t go over well.“If you’re talking to somebody in person and you say something, you might get some indication that they don’t like it, that they’re sick of hearing your negativity…”

While, as this study also showed, it’s not true of occasional negativity from generally positive people on Facebook, people that are consistently negative just get ignored. No one “like”s their posts. No one comments and with this, a vicious cycle is created where the ignored person, feeling ignored, grows even more negative and the people around them grow even more annoyed. If only someone would tell them how to get the attention they want! If only we had some handy guidelines…

The Seven Deadly Facebook Sins

Okay. Maybe they aren’t REALLY deadly, but they certainly aren’t helping you either! Based on the latest studies and popular opinion, think of these seven “sins” as your Facebook don’t list.

#1. Being Consistently Negative

grumpy, emo facebookIncludes: Constant posting of complaints, “woe is me” status updates, depressing quotes, depressing pictures, depressing music videos and using the “It’s Complicated.” relationship status. Offense is doubled if the profile picture is depressing as well.

What’s the big deal? As I briefly mentioned above, while you might think Facebook would be a good thing for people with low self-esteem, helping them reach out and build relationships in a way that seems a little safer than attempting the feat face-to-face, recent studies show this isn’t exactly the case. Though they did indeed feel safer expressing themselves on Facebook, the problem was they felt a little too safe, constantly complaining about one thing or another.  Compared with the posts of more self-confident people, the negative posts of those with low self confidence made study participants rate their likeability much lower. :/

Remember: It’s perfectly fine to reach out to others for support in difficult times! Occasional negativity makes you human and honesty IS good. HOWEVER, constant negativity is wearing. You can’t expect others to comfort you every day, several times a day! Try to think about being the sort of person you would want to be friends with. Additionally, if you’re one of the facebook 24/7 people, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Time to get off the internet and do fun, positive, uplifting things – the sort of things that make you feel good about yourself and other people like you more.

#2. Managing Relationships Over Facebook

facebook realtionship statusIncludes:  Using Facebook to break up with friends or significant others, using Facebook to settle arguments, writing status updates directed at one specific person, but omitting their name (that sort of falls into the above category as well, but either way -not cool) and finally - changing the relationship status of the person you want to date to say they are dating you, without their knowledge, before you actually decide together that you’re dating. (Happened to a friend of mine. NO JOKE. (Though it WAS pretty freaking funny.))

What’s the big deal? Also related to Facebook in the news this week? “Woman rams into Ex-Boyfriend’s Car After He Dumped Her On Facebook”.  Issues that regard the status of your relationship with someone have absolutely no place being handled on Facebook. Breaking up with someone via a message or worse yet, a relationship status update, is cowardly and just plain LOW. You obviously cared about this person at one point! Have the decency to talk about things with them in person.

And on the topic of arguments - attempting to “settle things” on Facebook is just a bad idea. It is WAY too easy to read things one way when it’s meant another. When we’re already upset and on the defensive, we’re even MORE likely to read a message more offensively than it was meant to be taken.  I know it sucks.  I know it’s uncomfortable.  But arguing with your friends online, where you can’t hear each other’s infliction or read each other’s body language, is much more likely to escalate problems than it is to solve them.

Remember: Real life comes first. Facebook comes after. Things as important as the status of your relationships deserve to be given real, not virtual attention.

#3. Sharing Things You Wouldn’t Want Grandma/An Employer to See

Includes: The details of your drunken (or drugged) escapades, details of your sexual life, pictures, photos or video that relate to either of two prior items, gory details of your own or someone-you-know’s health condition, overly “sassy” pictures of yourself.

What’s the big deal? As safe as we may feel sharing our lives with others on Facebook, it is now common practice for potential employers, and even present employers to check out your profile. In fact, according to a 2012 study 90% of recruiters look at their applicants Facebook page. Is sharing something that may turn off a potential employer REALLY worth it? Will you be able to face Grandma if you knew she saw this picture?

Remember: Just because you don’t see them, doesn’t mean they don’t see you!

#4.Keeping It Open All Day

addicted to facebookIncludes: Computer and phone access.

What’s the big deal? While I’m assuming that most of you reading this are not CEOs, that studies have proven it hurts productivity really hurts us all. You can’t get ahead at work if you’re not doing your best, and you can’t do your best if you’re being distracted by constant updates. Further, when you’re not at work and still spending a significant amount of your time on Facebook, you’re NOT participating in the sort of things that make you a cool person to know.

Further, one of the most mentioned Facebook pet peeves – posting too frequently. All day Facebookers – I’m talking to you!

Remember: Life happens in the real world. If your job doesn’t actually require it and you’re spending more than an hour a day Facebooking, you’re not allowing yourself to be the best you. We don’t need the play-by-play of your entire day.  As I said before, get out there are do the sort of things that are worth sharing when you DO get on!

#5.Too Much Marketing

desperate for likesIncludes: Constant requests to join your group, sending event invitations to your entire friends list, constant posting of links to your blog or website.

What’s the big deal?  Almost since the emergence of Facebook, there have been people trying to do business there. In some cases, this is good. Facebook give us an easy way to communicate with companies we like. Facebook also allows us a convenient place to network with others and organize around common interests. HOWEVER, there is a point where that contact moves from cool, convenient and helpful to annoying and spammy.

Remember: By all means, make your friends aware of your page or business – just keep things in check. If you annoy the friends that are kind enough to support you with constant sales offers at your etsy or with constantly begging for “like”s, you risk losing them.  Want likes? Create something worth liking and don’t expect to get more likes than you give out.

#6. Letting Your Ego Run Rampant

Includes: Constant “glamor shot” profile picture changes, posting more often than you comment on or “like” others posts, attention seeking updates – either shocking and inappropriate or purposefully vague ie.) “This sucks!”

What the big deal? Another in the recent studies on Facebook has found a trend of increased narcissistic tendencies in our culture.  Narcissism and behaviors like those mentioned above, especially the glamour shots, are among the most annoying, repellent behaviors mentioned on Facebook. Nobody likes a narcissist once it becomes clear that that’s what they are.

Remember: If you’re really cool, it will be clear through the things you do and the way you act. If you’re acting like a self-involved jerk, you’re working against your goal of gaining attention. People like people that like them. Confidence is good. Narcissism is ugly.

#7. Comparing Yourself to Others

facebook envyIncludes: Losing sight of what Facebook really is.

What’s the big deal? Recently there have been several studies that show people becoming depressed and losing confidence in themselves as a result of using Facebook. Seeing pictures of their very attractive friends, or their very social friends or hearing from friends they view as more successful than themselves, can make people feel like real crud in comparison.

In a very recent study, more than half of those questioned said Facebook made them feel self-conscious and less happy with their body.

In a 2011 study, researchers found people OVERestimated how much fun their facebook friends had while at the same time, they UNDERestimated how many negative experiences they had.  As Slate writer Libby Copeland points out,“By showcasing the most witty, joyful, bullet-pointed versions of people's lives, and inviting constant comparisons in which we tend to see ourselves as the losers, Facebook appears to exploit an Achilles' heel of human nature.”

Remember: Most people naturally “edit” themselves for Facebook. They only include their most flattering photos. They talk about times when they had fun, not the times when they sat around feeling lonely. Don’t allow your perceived value of others to define your own value! Remember the things that make you proud to be you and take time to cultivate them.


Photo Credit: cambodia4kidsorg, JD Hancock, www.JessGiggles.wordpress,,, zarprey

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  • Very good points, I enjoyed this :)

  • Thanks, Victoria! :)

  • It's interesting that Facebook is causing depression for some people. You'd think we would be more social, but I suppose it's also an easy way for people who are already non-social to avoid others or be ignored. Fascinating!

  • Matt - Yeah, I found that surprising as well. Other studies say it delivers an endorphin boost that makes it as addicting as alcohol!

    On further reflection though, I can see how it would be depressing to be addicted to something that shows most of the people around you at their best - especially if you're already feeling unsure or unhappy with yourself.

    Reading that has made me more aware of my activity on Facebook and more conscious about the attention I give my friends. I've been better about showing I care with comments and likes and posts on their walls. It doesn't take long, and it makes them feel good. "Do unto others...", right? :)

  • I love to be on Facebook, but I dislike what it has made my friends become. A lot of communication has suffered because of Facebook, and also I have had a lot of friendships end on the site and not in person. I recently wrote about this, and it's great to see we brought up the same points. It is a shame that Facebook has turned into a center of attention for people and vague status posts for others. It has even made me more self conscious of what I post, because I don't want to flood people's news feeds with drama. I tend to limit what I post about negative things.

  • This is a really well written piece...have shared it on my FB hoping to enlighten at least one person...I have unfriended so many people or have ignored all of their posts because they are guilty of these things.

  • Thanks, Jason! Yeah. Unfortunately, as much as I enjoy it myself, Facebook has a tendency to bring out the worst in people. Fingers crossed for you! ;)

  • Sharing a virtual story on facebook, can't be wise.

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