Is Time Spent On Facebook A Help Or A Hindrance To Your Personal Development?

I have recently been feeling an aversion to the people I know who are heavy facebook users and found myself writing off the social media platform. Nothing is entirely bad, so I thought about what good things facebook has to offer. It is a tool which when used at the right time for the right reasons, can be very beneficial to oneself and those who are connected to them via facebook. But, I still can’t help getting a little annoyed at the whole facebook culture when I see so many people using this tool for unhealthy or mundane reasons.

I love to see people make the most of their time and to use their energy for things which are beneficial to themselves and others. Much time is wasted on social media platforms such as facebook, and I feel it is a tragedy. This is time that could have been spent contributing to much larger, more important issues in their lives, their community, and the world as a whole. Constant facebooking should be treated as an addiction like any other because it prevents people from living a deeper more meaningful life.

There are many reasons why someone would use facebook. I categorized all the ones I could think of under two headings “Good reasons to use facebook” and “Not so good reasons to use facebook”. Under the “Good reasons,” I listed the ways that facebook can help you develop in the areas of business marketing and social contacts, or as a way to share valuable inspiration. In the “Not so good reasons” I have listed some rather unproductive reasons or superficial excuses that people may use when justifying their facebook usage.

Good Reasons to Use Facebook:

1. To Market Your Business or Services

Social networking is huge; businesses and entrepreneurs can’t compete these days without using some form of social networking. Facebook is a quick way to get your skills and services known to the world. It makes it relatively easy for people to read about your business offerings and to pass the information on to others who may be interested. It can be less of a hassle than sending email attachments, and it may also reach a wider range of people. However, not everyone uses facebook as their primary method for receiving communications, so it is not recommended to replace email newsletters completely with facebook notifications; use both, and you will reach a wider range of people.

2. To Share Valuable Websites, Pages, etc…

“Liking” or sharing something that you perceive as valuable and want to recommend to others is easy and non-invasive on facebook. Seeing that a trusted friend likes a web page or a video, may make you want to check it out, but it does not make you feel obligated to do so. Facebook gives people the freedom to ignore that kind of thing without feeling sorry for deleting an email from someone trying to share pages, photos, or videos that they like. “Liking” or sharing something also helps the person who’s thing you like; word of mouth is one of the best ways to grow an online or offline business.

3. To Post Inspirational or Uplifting Content

Facebook offers space for people to share inspiring or funny quotes, stories and videos with friends without being too spammy about it. Who doesn’t need a little inspiration or humor in their day? These can also be easily ignored if you are not in the mood for fun or inspiration.

4. To Get in Touch With Long Lost Friends

Facebook makes it easier than ever to search for and get in touch with people you have been out of contact with. Sometimes you lose someone’s contact information, or they change their email, phone number, or address without notifying you – but if they have facebook, you can find them!

Not So Good Reasons for Using Facebook:

1. To Constantly Update Your Status with Ordinary Things

Facebook gives you a free ticket to spill out your most mundane thoughts. Unfortunately some people take advantage of that opportunity. If you catch yourself writing things such as “I bought shoes today”, or “I like peanut butter….mmm”, or “I am tired and need to go to sleep”, then  maybe it’s time to log off. If you are tired and need sleep, then get off facebook and go to sleep – it’s much more healthy for you and your facebook friends.

2. To Make Insignificant Comments

Comments are another place on facebook where people can share thoughts that may not add much value. Often some great insights and beautiful things are shared in the comments, but if you find yourself adding “cool” or “great” or “lol,” it can make for unwanted clutter on your friend’s news feed. Refraining from adding comments that don’t enhance the value of the original post leaves more space for others to add more in depth thoughts to the discussion. The “like” button has become a lot more advanced and allows you to react to the post without cluttering up the comments.

3. To Post Photos Without Discernment

Facebook offers a platform for people to post hundreds of photos of themselves. While some photos can be a good way to keep friends and family up to date on certain events in one’s life, I still can’t bring myself to put this under the “Good” reasons for using facebook. People often post photos without any discernment. Not all photos are appropriate for a large audience. Also, keep in mind that potential employers may be able to access your account and border crossing authorities can demand to see your facebook page when you try to enter certain countries.

You may also want to consider another photo sharing platform such as Flickr or Photobucket; these sites do a better job of displaying your photos and are much more secure. Not to be forgotten is the seemingly outdated method of sending photos via email, which holds a more personal charm for those viewing the photos you choose to share.

4. To Boost Your Ego

Facebook is a great tool for ego gratification. It’s a entire page all about your status, your interests, your photos, your likes, etc…. it’s all about you! You can also present your life in any way you choose, and make yourself look really impressive. But, it takes a lot of time and energy to build and maintain a facebook personality.

Ask yourself why you are posting certain things. Is it just for an ego boost? The ego  loves the boost it receives when your friend count rises, or you receive oodles of comments about how beautiful you look in a particular photo. If you are using facebook as your principal means of feeling good about yourself, you may want to dig a little deeper into your reasons for needing this type of recognition from others.

Acknowledgment from other people may make you feel great in the short-term, but it is not a good way to achieve lasting, genuine happiness. You can’t rely on anyone outside yourself to bring you joy. True happiness does not come from ego gratification, but from going beyond personality and discovering your true nature, which is timeless and faceless.

5. To Live Vicariously Through Others

It is so easy for one to get lost in the world of facebook, only to find their way out hours later. There are better ways to spend your time and cultivate a more meaningful life for yourself. Maybe the life people display on facebook looks more interesting than your life, but it shouldn’t be that way. Take more interest in your own life, create your own opportunities and you will be much happier. There is no need to live vicariously through others when you can create an awesome life for yourself.

6. To Stalk an Enemy, a Crush, or Someone You Don’t Even Know

Facebook makes it easy for one to find out an outrageous amount of details about another’s life without them knowing that you know. It’s a bit creepy. It makes no difference if they are on your friend’s list and they gave you access to their information or if it is someone with a public profile that you have never met. If you are routinely visiting someone’s profile and watching their life more closely than your own, you might want to figure out why and resolve the underlying issues of loneliness, jealousy, vengeance or whatever other emotion is causing you to facebook stalk someone.

7. To Feel a Sense of Connection With Others

Facebook allows us to keep up to date with more people’s lives than was possible before. However, many fall into the trap of getting carried away in maintaining a connection over facebook; they forget how fulfilling in-person human connection can be. If you are looking at someone’s profile because you want to feel connected with them, then take steps to connect with them in real life. If seeing them in person is not possible, pick up the phone or set up a webcam and log into Skype. You’ll get much more out of connecting with the real person than you will by checking out their online personality.

Are you away traveling, working, or studying and you cannot meet with your friends in person?. You may have a few close people you want to update now and then, but if you are living on facebook to connect with people far away, you are missing out on opportunities for connecting with people in your current location.

8. To Stay in Touch With Every Person You Ever Met

If you are not using social media as a marketing tool do you really need 1,000+ people on your friend’s list? Would you have coffee with them if they were in your city? If not, then you probably do not need them on your facebook. Although it can be nice to occasionally reconnect with someone from your past, set some limits to your friend finding. If you did not try to stay in touch in the first place, were they really that important to you?

It’s true that we sometimes let people who are dear to us slip away, and if you feel inclined to reconnect, then do so, but choose your re-connections with discernment. Most of the time, if someone is no longer in our life, there is no reason for them to be in our life. People come into and out of our lives for various reasons, and if you are meant to reconnect with someone, fate will find a way. Trust the working of the universe and don’t feel like you have to keep countless contacts just in case you may want to talk to one of them one day. By clinging on to people from our past, we don’t leave space for the new to come in. Stay open and let the mystery of life unfold. The right people come in and out of your life at the right time, don’t force facebook friendships.

Recognize facebook as a tool which has certain capabilities, not as something that becomes your lifeline. There is a higher purpose to your life, and it probably doesn’t involve telling the world that you liked last night’s episode of your favorite TV series.

If you have other “good” or “not so good” reason that someone may use facebook, feel free to post in the comment section below.


Photo: mtkang

Michelle is passionate about holistic health and self-discovery. She received her training in Nutrition, Herbalism, and Bodywork from the International Academy of Natural Health Sciences in Ottawa, ON. She studied Ayurveda and Yoga in India and later continued her Yoga studies on Koh Phangan in Thailand. Michelle truly believes that good health involves body, mind, and spirit. She loves to spend her time in walking in nature, meditating, painting, writing, and learning more about health and wellness.


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