Facebook is not only a vortex of time wasting, but a recent study says that it may also undermine your well-being. Your own Facebook activity may offer clues about your mental health. Are you a dumper? A chronic comparer? A spinner? Read on to see what your Facebook habits say about you.
The Facebook Dumper
Dumpers are the Debbie Downers of Facebook, the sad trombones. They broadcast dismal reports from under a grey cloud, with status updates like “No sleep last night. Again.” Dumpers are virtual vampires sucking the life out of the party.
You are a Dumper if: Facebook is your personal pity party, and everyone is invited. You regularly use Facebook to vent and elicit sympathy.
What to do about it: Dumping reinforces a habitual mindset of negativity, and won’t help your situation. If you dump on a regular basis, it’s time to take a closer look at why you’re unhappy. Stop playing the victim, and take action to improve your situation.
Have a friend who posts complaints about her husband’s low income? Or one who boasts about his sexcapades? Facebook Oversharers divulge too much information about themselves and the (formerly) private lives of others.
You are an Oversharer if: You post private or embarrassing information about someone else. Your posts often get the response, “too much information”.
What to do about it: Badmouthing an ex or oversharing breakup details on Facebook is cringeworthy and counterproductive. Broadcasting an open wound on Facebook is like seeking therapy by megaphone. It won’t attract the right type of support. Try connecting with a close friend instead. As for oversharing private details about others, it’s just plain disrespectful. Think twice before you hit “post”.
The Compulsive Connector
Everybody has that one Facebook friend who posts mundane commentary on every activity, short of bathing and bowel movements (hopefully). Compulsive Connectors may be lonely or unable live in the moment. Or perhaps they simply haven’t been introduced to Twitter.
You are a Compulsive Connector if: You regularly shift focus from experiencing something to documenting it. You feel compelled to broadcast constantly, and post more than a handful of times a day.
What to do about it: Life should be experienced first and documented second. Try to savour experiences for the joy they offer now, and less for their subsequent commentary value. Also, use Twitter to keep your documenting to 140 characters or less.
The Social Conformist
Social Conformists play it safe. They post broadly acceptable, banal, comments like “Is it Friday yet?” and follow sweeping directives like “share this post if you love your Mom”. They are harmless, but boring. If Saturday Night Live’s Church Lady was on Facebook she might fall into this category.
You are a Social Conformist if: You take special care not to post anything political, controversial, or otherwise improper. Your posts are kind and polite…and devoid of any personality.
What to do about it: Facebook Social Conformists operate from a place of fear. If you constantly hold back for fear of making someone jealous or causing disagreement, it’s time you get a little more comfortable in your own skin. Let your personality shine. Most people will like it, but know that not everybody has to.
The Obsessive Checker
Be honest. Do you post an update or photo and then follow it obsessively to monitor ‘likes’ and comments? I do this more often than I’d like to admit. Obsessive Checkers like myself care far too much about what people think, and seek validation in all forms, including Facebook.
You are an Obsessive Checker if: You post a witty or insightful status update and then check back repeatedly to see how well it is received.
What to do about it: Obsessive Checkers are approval seekers. They get their fix through signals of respect, admiration, and status. Notice your motives before posting something, and self-correct if it’s to seek validation. You can (and probably will) continue to care what people think, but try to break the reinforcing habit of monitoring it obsessively.
The Chronic Comparer
A friend of mine compares herself to other working mothers on Facebook. Other moms seem to throw better birthday parties and bake more cookies, and with developmentally advanced children impeccably dressed in organic designer gear, to boot. This Facebook motherhood audit leaves my friend feeling like a failure. She is a Chronic Comparer, and I suspect she’s not alone.
You are a Chronic Comparer if: You were the kid in school who earned good grades, but still checked your neighbor’s test score to see if she did better. You use self-peer contrasts to measure your own success.
What to do about it: Comparing your last day at the beach to the Miss America swimsuit competition would be setting yourself up for disappointment. So why compare your real life with the projected lives of others on Facebook? Resist the urge, and keep things in perspective.
Most people present themselves favourably on Facebook, but Spinners take this to an extreme, projecting a “Life is wonderful!” image while secretly feeling lost, stressed, or depressed. Their posts are filled with desperate exclamation marks and false enthusiasm. Look closely at a Spinner’s photos, and you’ll see a strained smile masking discontent.
You are a Spinner if: Your Facebook persona looks like a glamorous highlights reel, with no real depth or substance. You broadcast only the shiniest of accomplishments, while never revealing your insecurities, fears or failures.
What to do about it: Not everyone who is happy is faking it, but when your projected life and real life don’t jive, you have to ask yourself why you’re spinning? You may be motivated less by a desire to incite jealousy, and more by a desperate attempt to fool yourself. Authenticity is important for mental health. Try to keep it real.
Published at Huffington Post.