Viewpoint: Facebook can lead to self-loathing

By Ada Zhang

On Saturday, I chose to temporarily deactivate my Facebook profile.

I invent various excuses for why I did this. I just need to focus on school or I had a really awkward encounter with someone and need to be incognito for at least six months until the shame goes away. But the truth is this: Facebook often makes me feel like an failure.

As I scroll up and down my feed, I get snapshots of other people’s oh-so-interesting lives.

Katie is teaching Cambodian orphans how to read, Margaret is excited to move to L.A, Nick is doing medical research in Costa Rica, Tim just got into law school, Scarlet just landed an internship with the Wall Street Journal, Laskshmi is sipping on a non-fat cappuccino on a rooftop in New York, Anthony is hiking the Appalachian Trail and feels like he’s found himself, Kwon just got engaged and Jen is partying it up in Vegas. I could go on and on but I think you get the point.

These statuses make me feel so blisteringly mediocre.

On Facebook, everyone’s life seems to be taking off in the right direction. Everyone is either experiencing unabashed fun, advancing in their career goals or taking their romantic relationship to the next level. Everyone except me, of course. I am not doing philanthropy work or dancing the night away “only living once” under a disco ball. And breakfast tacos are the only love in my life.

The most impounding dilemma of my mundane day is finding time to review Latin, and no one wants to read a status about that.

So, disgruntled with my boring life, I would waste time staring at my laptop comparing myself to other people based on their cyber profiles.

Eventually it dawned on me how stupid and completely useless this was.

Facebook had become my outlet for self-pity. It was almost like I enjoyed envying others while feeling discouraged about myself. Reading these statuses, I found hundreds of reasons to be discontent with my life. I crumbled into a torpor of low self-esteem, at which point I turned to peanut butter for comfort.

It was pathetic (and it was fattening), but that wasn’t even the worst part. The worst part was losing the ability to feel genuinely happy for others. I was selfish for viewing the joyous moments in my friends’ lives as a means of measuring how well I was doing. Overly preoccupied with feeling sorry for myself, I had forgotten how to celebrate in another person’s bliss.

If I continued down this road, I could see myself becoming a cynical old lady with no friends, a bunch of cat-shaped household amenities and a pantry stocked full with peanut butter. I decided enough was enough.

I went to Settings, Security, and Deactivate. (Facebook tries to change your mind by warning you “So-and-so will miss you.” Don’t fall for it.)

We shouldn’t perceive the success of those around us as a mark of our own shortcomings.

If we wholeheartedly believe we have a purpose in this world, and we’re working hard to fulfill that purpose, then that is enough. Our moment will come. We may not peak today, tomorrow, or even within the next year.

But so long as we focus on what we’re doing — and not what others are doing — we will hit our peak eventually.

We will snag that dream job or save enough money to take that trip to the beach.

And the best part? We will have earned the right to be obnoxious and tell the entire cyberworld about it when it happens, using as many exclamation points and emoticons as our heart desires.

Until then, feel free to deactivate your Facebook, because what you are really deactivating are all of the distractions that will inhibit you from being happy on your own terms at a pace that suits you.

For me, this means I will keep reciting Latin forms until I get into grad school.

Ada Zhang is a junior professional writing major from Austin. She is a staff writer for the Lariat.