The Way Facebook Makes You Mentally Ill (And Is Happy Doing So)

Poor Facebook, it is having a tough old time of it at the moment. It has gone from a delightful place where Mark Zuckerberg could rank and rate the attractiveness of women he liked, to a dispenser of mental illnesses and more recently into a Stasi like monolith that facilitates the corrupting of democratic processes in domestic and foreign nations, but that’s OK because profits are up 61% to $4.3bn! You DA man Zuckerberg, #GDP.

I remember around the year 2004, when I was in High School Musical, the UK Government began debating the NIR (National Identity Register). It was designed to register all citizens, photo and all, to a national database but the brave population was OUTRAGED!* The creepy elected Government representing the people wanted to register everyone? That is just sick. Most European countries did create such databases but in the UK the idea was eventually poo-pooed.

Coincidently, 2004 was the year unelected international man of mystery Mark Suck a berg Zuckerberg decided to create his very own (international) registry database. Don’t do it, Mark! The people don’t want it you fool! The Stasi in Germany, the KGB in Russia, the CIA in the US have all tried and failed to do this legally. Mark was not dissuaded by these past failures, however.

And so he created what can only be described as an alluring quagmire of button pushing manipulation, stalking, George Orwell’s Big Brother, mentally degrading, insecurity driving, overly blue, poorly designed website that is only interested in keeping your attention long enough to show advertisements to your face, even if that means you commit suicide in the process a website.

Committing suicide. Now there is a thing society should try and reduce – unless you are Facebook. Executive Andrew Bosworth, in describing what is acceptable and justified in Facebook’s undying love for growth, he said that even if Facebook exposes people to bullies, so much so, they commit suicide – I swear I’m not making this up* – that is still a justifiable action because they are ‘connecting people’. Thanks for connecting us with bullies Andrew, yeah, cheers. Still, you can’t deny those numbers – 4.3 billion – oooo mama!

In December 2017, an in-house Facebook research group looked a the mental health of its 1.4 billion users and came to a shocking obvious conclusion: Facebook has a negative effect on your mental health. Turns out passively consuming endless streams of information that portray a better life than you, and superficially enhancing your own life to meet these new falsified expectations is a bad thing, not to mention the polarising affect short form discourse has on harmony. Dang it. Why does science ruin everything?

It is quite a big step though when you think about it. A company researches its own product and comes to the (right) conclusion that it is bad. Imagine tobacco companies coming out and saying you can die from their product, and it will make you feel bad. I’m no marketing expert, but I think that is a poor strategy. Interestingly though Facebook didn’t stop there. Having come to the conclusion that their product is bad, with some pretty sound research method it has to be said, they then go on to provide some recommendations. This is common practice in scientific research – conclude your research with some sound recommendations to counteract negative outcomes or to enhance positive ones. For example; Facebook is bad, don’t use Facebook. Easy.

Facebook’s actual recommendation however was; use more Facebook and do it better.

“You’re not smoking that cigarette right! Here’s a pack of 100; don’t come back until you’re doing it better!… Kids these days.”

You’ll notice the blame is not on Facebook here, you will notice that it is always your fault. This is the ultimate get out of jail free card in the capitalistic world. Tell me of a CEO in the land who took responsibility for the collapse of the whole financial industry in 2008. Or even of a Government that held one to account.* Yeah you’re right it was those poor people trying to get mortgages, it’s their fault, bloody poor people ruining everything.

If a government created a national identity database that was used to plan terrorist attacks, expose people to bullies and dish out mental illnesses like Santa hands out presents at Christmas, we would close it down immediately. But oh no, this has profits of 4.3bn dollars people! You are just using it wrong. Oh, and want to try and put pressure on the unelected leader of this company to change? The British Government couldn’t even get him to come have a chat with them about his companies involvement in subverting their democratic process.

Got a mental illness from Facebook? You’re using it wrong.

Now look, maybe I am being hard on Facebook and maybe they do have some positive aspects. But I’m pretty sure Jeffrey Dahmer took his mum out to lunch once or twice, that doesn’t quite mean we should forget about all the murdery stuff. If only he generated profits of $4.3bn however…

Paul Green

*Not really, polls actually suggested that the population was initially in favour of the scheme. 

*Oh, and in the same memo, Andrew Bosworth also said that Facebook’s search for growth is also justified even if a terrorist uses its tools to plan an attack and kill someone.  

*Iceland did actually jail the bankers responsible and let the banks fail. 10 years on they have a healthy economy, go figure.

29 Comments

  1. D

    You know when I started decoding and basically back engineering Facebook’s API and the way it added ‘interests’ even while not logged in and how people could like a comment I made on a deactivated account suddenly I was mentally unstable and needed hospitalization. Odd that hey. It’s about the same time I declared on Facebook I had been trained in digital forensics. Still, I’m the mad one and everything I saw was delusions. Still, we dropped the share price by 6% so it’s a start. And I’m still on Facebook because if I wasn’t there a bot version of me would be. But anyway I’m a deranged benefit scrounger so DON’T believe a thing I day (trolls you may now unload, I love collecting IPs to hand to Oxford). Anyway what was I saying … oh yes cucumbers are very green and teapots need to be more tea pottier. Great post Mindfump.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. D

        Yep I’m back with most of my marbles intact. And I found some very dark slime at the bottom of Facebook’s barrel … word on the dark net points to black budget funding but you know that’s crazy man conspiracy theory stuff. Personally I work within the Mozilla frame work for a neutral net so it’s good to know the boundaries even if the mega corps don’t respect them. I could write endlessly about this, it’s kinda of my thing but I keep right most of the time under (undisclosed) coloured wizard hat. Take care Paul and your right to fear Facebook. I once posted on there “I have friends on Facebook but Facebook is not my friend.” Peace D

        Liked by 1 person

        1. D

          Also so my mentor knows; I have been ‘advised’ to retire and not continue a career in InfoSec. Instead I’m stick to posting my vorgon like poetry on WordPress 😉

          Like

  2. Brian

    “passively consuming endless streams of information that portray a better life than you, and superficially enhancing your own life to meet these new falsified expectations is a bad thing” I recently read a piece about someone who gave up Instagram for a short while and said pretty much the same about that. I find watching people on Youtube can have a similar effect: http://metro.co.uk/2017/08/02/what-i-learned-from-giving-up-instagram-for-two-weeks-6823470 We’re all suckers for what’s not good for us and there are plenty of people that will exploit this and cash in on it, although that might not being their intentional primary motivation.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. stacyaldermanwriter

    Facebook (social media in general) obviously has some issues and negative side effects. I seriously considered deleting my account after the Orange Lord won the election.
    But then I decided to use it for good – I unfriended or unfollowed many, many people (including “friends” and family) who were bullies or who were disrespectful or hurtful to me and my life. I stopped sharing cruel memes, even if they made me chuckle or echoed my sometimes cynical thoughts. I stopped looking at the comments section of photos, memes, and videos and getting in to arguments with strangers.
    Instead I started sharing feel good news, videos, and pictures. I started following a ton of cute animal sites and inspirational story sites. I also now primarily use FB as a networking tool for my writing, and the results have been AMAZING. I’ve “met” so many cool, helpful writers and have learned a ton. I’ve also found so many writing opportunities that I otherwise wouldn’t have known about.
    Again, social media definitely has its downfalls, but, like everything else, I think it’s all about how we use it. It can be use for good or evil. I’ve chosen to use it for good. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Paul Green

      I’m glad people are using it to its full potential. as you said it can be used in both ways and I definitely see its good points, unfortunately at the moment it is more conducive to divisive behaviour. Let’s hope that changes. Thanks for stopping by – great comment.

      Like

  4. mydangblog

    I hardly ever post things on Facebook, mostly because I don’t care if people think I have a great life or not. I tried some FB sites for blogging, but they’re very authoritarian, and have aggressive, yell-y policies about “NOT USING PREVIEWS” and I don’t know what that is, so I gave up.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. L. Rorschach

    I love Facebook – it’s the only social
    media site I use. I think the trick is to tailor it to you’re preferences. If you see anything you don’t like, you can click “hide this post and similar posts”.

    I use it to keep in touch with friends and family.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. helentastic67

    And this is why it’s good to limit time wasted on social media. The oblivious smiles of happy people with all the things I don’t have. Partners, kids, pets (these days too!) jobs! Adventures overseas! Feels like they are all rubbing it in my face! So, I choose not to look! Cheers,H

    Like

  7. thenigeriannomad

    Feeling this now more than ever. Social media exacerbates my feelings of loneliness and isolation. It exposes me to/puts me in contact with hundreds of “friends” – it shows me all the fun they’d rather be having with anyone but me. At the same time, I can’t get rid of it because that would only confirm and compound the loneliness I fight so hard against.

    Like

  8. youbeautifullife

    For someone whose worked in the field of mental health for the past 4 years, I have to say I agree with your point here. I see it way too often, day after day, suicidal teens/children coming in brought by the police because of something on Facebook. After the millionth time, it’s hard to watch happen. Thanks for posting!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. tilsunset

    I concur.
    I have deleted my account. Then, tried to use it only for business (and failed), and then deactivated. I literally told my boss, “Facebook is eating my soul. Can you find someone else to manage to the business page?”
    I know people who can use it in moderation and they are fine. But that was not the story for me. It was destroying my mental health. I’m so much happier and calmer without it!

    Like

  10. Jessie

    Great post! One line that particularly struck me was when you referred to “the polarising affect short form discourse has on harmony.” As someone who enjoys writing short form discourse, I have been aware of this, and trying to figure out a way to do it in a way that builds social harmony. It’s a huge challenge and I’m not sure I’ll succeed, but the effort itself is worthwhile.

    Like

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