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The Psychological Effects of Facebook

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'What's on your mind?'

Well, isn't that the question. It seems that an extraordinary number of people actually feel like Facebook is personally talking to them when they read this question in the website's status bar. Cue statuses about feeling lonely, not being able to sleep, or feeling so happy you could burst. Then cue the statuses about relationships and those mysterious statuses that are aimed at someone but all too often leave everyone wondering who.

Is this what Facebook has come to? This was a social networking website originally designed to allow people to connect with friends from both past and present, communicate, share photos and basically stay in touch. It has somewhat transformed into a platform on which we can post photos of mundane things like what we're eating, tell people we haven't seen for years exactly how we're feeling, inform anyone about where we are and reveal who we do and don't like. Nothing is private anymore.

What's more, the social networking phenomenon has led to the creation of a whole new language. Facebook accounts can be abused and fake statuses written by others; this is crudely known as a 'frape'. Friend's profiles (mainly their photos) can also be trawled through and cause hours of procrastinating as contacts engage in 'facebook stalking'. These are both harmless fun but studies by researchers at Edinburgh Napier University indicate that Facebook actually adds stress to users's lives. As 'facebook envy' becomes a growing phenomenon when faced with an overwhelming amount of attractive photos on your news feed, some users have found Facebook to leave a negative impact on their lives. Fear of offending contacts, being rejected from friend requests or being un-friended by others combined with the pressure to be entertaining and use appropriate etiquette for different friends leads many to experience strangely high levels of online stress. One starts to wonder - is Facebook becoming too much?

As a student, I'm aware of the dangers and exposure Facebook has. One has to be extremely conscious of what is put on online profiles either on Twitter or Facebook. Warnings from career departments include horror stories where students were rejected from jobs based on the content of their Facebook profile and the image of themselves they portrayed.

Facebook is becoming a dominating part of our lives and culture, but surely all of this calls for just a bit of common sense. If the site is used as intended, as a site you visit for an hour or so every now and again, rather than obsessively refreshing the page to find out the latest gossip from your friends surely the negative impacts will lessen.

Restraint needs to be shown to avoid Facebook becoming a platform to tell anyone everything, and everyone anything.