Time for another story about Facebook. And why not? Everyday they provide something to make us think, even if not always favourable. Social networking was unheard of just a few years ago, now a whole lexicon has evolved around and about its complexities.
A survey from people at the Kansas State University and the Southern Illinois University published in Computers in Human Behavior has concluded that in general office workers waste as much as 80% of their employed time on the internet.
This wasted time is on things like Facebook, shopping and ‘watching /cat videos on YouTube’ by younger people, while older workers waste theirs doing their finances.
Cyberloafers: another great descriptor
As all this lost time has to be paid for by employers, with resultant extra costs to customers, the report concluded that employer policies were rarely stringent enough to prevent it. What was needed was more naming and shaming type approaches with public information about colleagues reprimanded to embarrass people into compliance.
Of course the flip side was that offices would start to feel like Big Brother Is Watching You, with incredibly negative consequences. Several people have raised the point that connecting to Facebook and LinkedIn is actually keeping in the loop, it is not wasting time, even though employers might think it is!
Facebook Envy: another great condition
Shane Richmond in a personal column in the Daily Telegraph on 24 January 2013 suggested that if 20 minutes on Facebook ‘leaves you with a lingering sense of failure and envy, you are not alone’. Of course, you’re never alone with Big Brother, either, but that’s not the point.
He reckoned that 20% of users feel jealous when looking at others on the site, and this feeling could endanger both ‘our happiness and the long-term sustainability’ of Facebook itself.
It seems that research from two German universities has found holiday photos posted online cause the most jealousy. How many comments and ‘likes’ are another direct stimulant to discontent. We already know that some people can fabricate Twitter followers to boost their own egos.
Apparently women tend to feel envy of others’ physical attractiveness and those in their mid-30s are jealous of others’ family joys. People from a feeling of inadequacy will respond with more fervent and/or extreme posting and commenting, just to keep up. A ‘self-promotion envy cycle’ is set up and is not a good thing, researchers argued.
Comparing Ourselves With Others
Richmond said all this was not the fault of Facebook and friends, but people naturally compare and contrast themselves with others. It is the basis of education, commerce and sport, after all.
The real danger to our well being comes in assuming others are richer, slimmer, healthier, happier, in better jobs with more free time and are likable than we are. We tend, as a survival strategy to avoid people who moan, run everybody down, are unduly negative.
But as part of this research, it may be that we can actually feel better in shared misery, envy and reverse-motivation. Alternatively, you can just realise that despite what is posted, as Richmond said, half of your friends are ‘ill, several have just been vomited on by their pets and a surprisingly large number are freezing because their boiler has clapped out’.
So count your blessings in the real world before plunging into the virtual one.
Read about others:
Facebook Is Bad for Your Health, But Good For Your Self-Esteem, 29 January 2013
A Weibo World of Internet Freedom After Facebook and Twitter, 18 February 2013
Time to Cage the Twittering, Tweeting Bird of Internet Freedom, 22 January 2013
All That Twitters is No Longer Gold, 3 September 2012
Who Actually Owns Your Social Media? 19 June 2012
Facebook: From Frenzy to Fatigue in Record Time, 28 May 2012
Image: Kim Navarre