Facebook & Suffering

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No_Mind
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Facebook & Suffering

Postby No_Mind » Sat Jul 05, 2014 2:24 am

I am writing the post in this forum because I believe it is about "wellness"

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First a bit of rambling ....

Social media has had a presence in my life from the very beginning. Friendster and MySpace was not very popular in India. We had Orkut which had very simple capabilities back in 2006. One could catch up with old friends, show them pictures, send messages. Very simple interface. No clutter, no apps, no timeline, no likes.

Then came Facebook. I joined it in 2007 (delayed release to rest of the world). Facebook came with a disturbing trend - braggers or people posting pictures of their new SUV and the lavish spread on their dining table (what would be my exciting update - that I had argued about God in Buddhism with fellow Buddhists - no matter that it is intrinsically of greater worth it is about as exciting as soggy oatmeal)

Thereafter I noticed a strange fact. I had about 80 classmates in school. Quarter of a century has passed from my junior high. Only 8 had made it really big (Toyota SUV, condo, holiday at Bondi beach and so on). The rest 72 were either not in Facebook or kept silent. But back when we were in mid-teens in Grade 10 everyone spoke; none of the eighty cared about who was more popular, who was better at math, who was more handsome.

After being a member of Facebook for couple of months, I coined a phrase back then in 2007 "facebook depression syndrome" (how do I know I coined it; well I googled it in 2007 and no results which had the word string came up). Now googling it produces 1,18,00,000 results (compare to malaria 1,34,00,000 results, HIV-AIDS 3,19,00,000 results, schizophrenia 93,50,000 results).

Facebook depression syndrome is as famous a malaise as malaria - which is a vicious killer. Schizophrenia is less well known than "facebook depression syndrome" !!

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I never participated much in FB but I found even my minor participation three times a week for few minutes turned me mean. I was jealous, envious of those who had plenty and could boast about it. I could not sleep at night thinking what a failure I was.

It even drove me to contemplate suicide (many years back) .. not Facebook itself but the emotions it brought to surface .. in ordinary course of my life I would have run into one super successful classmate at a gas station at 26, run into another at an airport at 35 and run into another in a supermarket at 49. Facebook brings everyone together in a jiffy (I was on Friend list of all my old friends in less than 48 hours and since the most successful 10 were there and not the worst off 40 .. you are left wondering .. gee man am I the only loser left without a chair when the music stopped .. no one notices that it is the 10 most wealthy who are sharing and boasting and that I am at least as well off as the other 70 and probably all things said better off than 79 out of the 80)

I did a detox from Facebook and became a Buddhist. But I could not give up the account. I still needed to log in once a week and torture myself.

Finally few minutes back I deleted the account lock, stock and barrel. It is detrimental to well being. It takes mental resources away from practice. There is enough suffering in this life without adding to it by artificial means.

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However I do realize it is a culture thing. Some races might not be prone to showing off their perfect life.

:anjali:
Last edited by No_Mind on Sat Jul 05, 2014 2:46 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Facebook & Suffering

Postby culaavuso » Sat Jul 05, 2014 2:33 am


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Re: Facebook & Suffering

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Jul 05, 2014 2:56 am

No_Mind wrote:Thereafter I noticed a strange fact. I had about 80 classmates in school. Quarter of a century has passed from my junior high. Only 8 had made it really big (Toyota SUV, condo, holiday at Bondi beach and so on). The rest 72 were either not in Facebook or kept silent. But back when we were in mid-teens in Grade 10 everyone spoke; none of the eighty cared about who was more popular, who was better at math, who was more handsome.

Facebook depression syndrome


Sounds to me like the 72 are the successful ones for not joining facebook. I finally set up a facebook account a few years ago when family and friends encouraged me to do so for keeping in touch; although I thought that's what email was for. I rarely log in, rarely post anything and mostly just go there to post something mildly Dhamma related to a Dhamma Wiki page or to a stairclimbing facebook group I help run. Most of the time I find myself just removing lots of spam from my pages. It's pretty useless, in my opinion.

I wouldn't measure someone's success or happiness by what they post on facebook. Celebrities have pages with x many millions of likes, but I'd bet they rarely or hardly ever actually post there and rather have their agent or publicist post some crap for them.

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Re: Facebook & Suffering

Postby No_Mind » Sat Jul 05, 2014 2:59 am

Tim Maurer a blogger who gave up Facebook wrote

I’m on a mission to simplify life, to slow it down to a pace at which it can actually be consumed, not just tasted. I don’t want to hide behind the ubiquitous, “I’m really busy” as a badge of honor. I want a lower cost of living (not just financially) and a higher quality of life. I want to limit the number of [things] that compete for my attention so that I can apply more attention to those [things] I care the most about. Less is the new more.


Aptly put.
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Re: Facebook & Suffering

Postby Spiny Norman » Sat Jul 05, 2014 8:52 am

Facebook is a strange phenomenon and IMO best avoided. :tongue:
"I ride tandem with the random, Things don't run the way I planned them, In the humdrum."
Peter Gabriel lyric

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Re: Facebook & Suffering

Postby Sam Vara » Sat Jul 05, 2014 10:32 am

Spiny Norman wrote:Facebook is a strange phenomenon and IMO best avoided. :tongue:


I'm happy to say that I have only the haziest idea of what it is.

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Re: Facebook & Suffering

Postby Anagarika » Sat Jul 05, 2014 12:25 pm



Facebook has been somewhat useful as a resource for me to stay in touch with family and old friends. Would I pick up the phone and call or skype my brother weekly, or send a note to one of my old friends from college days? Not me. Facebook has made keeping these connections possible and for that I am glad. However, one has to worry about what we are "feeding" our minds when we fall into the use and abuse of Facebook and related technologies. In the Dhamma there are these allusions to the idea of mental "food," and the ideas and intentions we are feeding to the committee of the mind. In the same way, what will the neuroscience tell us about what is happening to the brains of young people who are trapped in technologically isolated visual and auditory worlds? I see the effect that Facebook and texting has on me....I hear a blip from my phone, and my anticipation rises...is it family, or a client with a problem? Happy news, or more stress? My brain and emotions are becoming tied to these noises from my cell phone, the same way that I imagine a crack addict develops a craving for a hit on a pipe.

I am mindful of this effect. I do leave this stuff off, and forget about it for a time. I purposefully avoid looking at Facebook, even when my brain wants me to see if my sister from 1700 miles away has posted another photo of her kids today. Millions of young people, though, are "crack addicted" to this form of human interactivity. Now that the 'mindfulness revolution' has reached our shores, is there hope for young people to develop to be aware, calm, recollective, sensitive and compassionate toward their world? Or, will their minds only be attuned to what pops up on their smartphone?

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Re: Facebook & Suffering

Postby Spiny Norman » Sun Jul 06, 2014 9:36 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:Facebook is a strange phenomenon and IMO best avoided. :tongue:


I'm happy to say that I have only the haziest idea of what it is.


It's one of those "social media" outlets, or as I call them "anti-social media". :tongue:
"I ride tandem with the random, Things don't run the way I planned them, In the humdrum."
Peter Gabriel lyric

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Re: Facebook & Suffering

Postby Sea Turtle » Sun Jul 06, 2014 3:58 pm

Interesting topic, No_Mind.

I'd avoided Facebook for years, then joined briefly, maybe 3 years ago. (The sangha I was involved with then even had a page.) In a short period of time, I found that my exposure to FB clearly resulted in the exacerbation of my mental defilements. Plus it was a time sink. I quit it completely and deleted my account (something that requires a few steps--even if you deactivate, you still have an account). This has only had beneficial results. I keep in touch with family/friends via phone, letters, e-mail, and visits.

Kind wishes,
Sea Turtle
:anjali:

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Re: Facebook & Suffering

Postby waterchan » Sun Jul 06, 2014 7:37 pm

Like most things on the Internet and in life in general, Facebook is a useful tool when used properly. No need to stigmatize it or go out of one's way to avoid it. For me it's the only viable way to keep in touch with geographically distant old friends.

Some extremely successful people, in both the material and spiritual senses, have active Facebook accounts. Though you might never see them posting high scores in Candy Crush.

What shall we talk about next? How about how violent video games are the cause of aggression and depression in today's youth?
quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur
(Anything in Latin sounds profound.)

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Re: Facebook & Suffering

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Jul 06, 2014 8:56 pm

I agree. FB, or other similar tools, are useful to keep up with some of my family and friends. It's obsessing over it that would be a problem, not the medium itself.

Much the same as forums, email, etc, etc...

:anjali:
Mike

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Re: Facebook & Suffering

Postby No_Mind » Mon Jul 07, 2014 4:00 am

waterchan wrote:Like most things on the Internet and in life in general, Facebook is a useful tool when used properly. No need to stigmatize it or go out of one's way to avoid it. For me it's the only viable way to keep in touch with geographically distant old friends.

Some extremely successful people, in both the material and spiritual senses, have active Facebook accounts. Though you might never see them posting high scores in Candy Crush.

What shall we talk about next? How about how violent video games are the cause of aggression and depression in today's youth?


The stigmatization of Facebook is not without reason. It is very difficult to draw exact correlation between violent movie or video game and violent behavior. It is far easier to draw parallels between depression and Facebook. I have myself gone through it and since I gave it up I am really feeling lot better - even though I spent no more than 45 minutes a week using Facebook.

Anyone will become depressed if repeatedly ten percent of the group makes false and/or boastful claims. How does a "plain" girl studying in sophomore year feel on Saturday morning when she finds her 19 year old friends living it up till 2 AM. She feels she is a loser for not having a date the night before. Previously she saw 5 girls on her campus living it up and 30 not living it up so much. Now in Facebook she finds 250 of her 2500 friends living it up. But the silent 2250 do not write, making it seem that whole world was partying and she is the only one who is a loser. Suddenly 250 posts of people in disco while she was caring for her cat makes the world seem awfully tilted.

Now is 4th of July weekend Sunday evening. How many feel they are losers because they are not away on vacation - feel losers because they see 10 % friends living it up with a daiquiri in hand in Miami. Plenty. And the magnitude of that Plenty is alarming.

In fact Facebook has confessed that in Jan 2012 they used 700,000 Facebook users without their consent for for a study on “emotional contagion.”(to see if sad makes people sad and if happy makes people happy;if emotions are as contagious as diseases)

In brief, the study separated its users into two groups. One was subjected to a newsfeed of primarily positive posts; the other was flooded with emotionally negative items.

I do want to keep in touch with friends and co workers but not at cost of someone tinkering knowingly with my mind. Secret experiment on emotional contagion sounds beyond Big Brother.

Here are links to Daily Mail and Mashable and Huffington Post articles (all television channels and newspapers followed the story last week).

Emotional manipulation on such a massive scale is despicable. This only came to light two and half years after they did it.

:anjali:
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Re: Facebook & Suffering

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Jul 07, 2014 4:38 am

No_Mind wrote:Anyone will become depressed if repeatedly ten percent of the group makes false and/or boastful claims. How does a "plain" girl studying in sophomore year feel on Saturday morning when she finds her 19 year old friends living it up till 2 AM. She feels she is a loser for not having a date the night before. Previously she saw 5 girls on her campus living it up and 30 not living it up so much. Now in Facebook she finds 250 of her 2500 friends living it up. But the silent 2250 do not write, making it seem that whole world was partying and she is the only one who is a loser. Suddenly 250 posts of people in disco while she was caring for her cat makes the world seem awfully tilted.


Loser? In what way? Maybe those party-girls will be her maids when she is older.

Mudita (joy with others' success, altruistic joy) is a virtue, a brahma-vihara in Buddhism, although it can be difficult for some if they are not happy with their life or how some things turned out in their life. Often it is just their attitude or a bad perception of how things are, but it can be difficult for many unless they are relatively happy already.

Is that so, Zen story:

A beautiful girl in the village was pregnant. Her angry parents demanded to know who was the father. At first resistant to confess, the anxious and embarrassed girl finally pointed to Hakuin, the Zen master whom everyone previously revered for living such a pure life. When the outraged parents confronted Hakuin with their daughter's accusation, he simply replied "Is that so?"

When the child was born, the parents brought it to the Hakuin, who now was viewed as a pariah by the whole village. They demanded that he take care of the child since it was his responsibility. "Is that so?" Hakuin said calmly as he accepted the child.

For many months he took very good care of the child until the daughter could no longer withstand the lie she had told. She confessed that the real father was a young man in the village whom she had tried to protect. The parents immediately went to Hakuin to see if he would return the baby. With profuse apologies they explained what had happened. "Is that so?" Hakuin said as he handed them the child.

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Re: Facebook & Suffering

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jul 07, 2014 4:42 am

No_Mind wrote:Anyone will become depressed if repeatedly ten percent of the group makes false and/or boastful claims.
Only one chooses to do so.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Facebook & Suffering

Postby No_Mind » Mon Jul 07, 2014 5:11 am

David N. Snyder wrote:
No_Mind wrote:Anyone will become depressed if repeatedly ten percent of the group makes false and/or boastful claims. How does a "plain" girl studying in sophomore year feel on Saturday morning when she finds her 19 year old friends living it up till 2 AM. She feels she is a loser for not having a date the night before. Previously she saw 5 girls on her campus living it up and 30 not living it up so much. Now in Facebook she finds 250 of her 2500 friends living it up. But the silent 2250 do not write, making it seem that whole world was partying and she is the only one who is a loser. Suddenly 250 posts of people in disco while she was caring for her cat makes the world seem awfully tilted.


Loser? In what way? Maybe those party-girls will be her maids when she is older.



That girl is not the loser. There is a feeling induced in her that she is. I am talking of an average young person not a person trained in mindfulness. If you provide an average person enough cues for sadness they will become sad. Mr Snyder you ventured into Facebook after you had mindfulness training. I will again enter Facebook after I have developed a "stronger" mindfulness practice. You are close to half a century old and I am a decade behind you. We can view it with maturity. But a 20 year old cannot.

As someone else so kindly explained to me on this board (really valuable members here) - Hakuin's story is not about Hakuin's calmness but that even though one is calm, the turmoil of this world will not stop. To develop calmness is relatively easy, the harder part is to remain calm after understanding that world will not become calm even though we have. Developing forbearance is harder.

Practice of brahma viharas especially loving-kindness was missing fro my practice before. I have added it a week or so back.
Last edited by No_Mind on Mon Jul 07, 2014 5:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Facebook & Suffering

Postby No_Mind » Mon Jul 07, 2014 5:12 am

tiltbillings wrote:
No_Mind wrote:Anyone will become depressed if repeatedly ten percent of the group makes false and/or boastful claims.
Only one chooses to do so.


Hello Mr Tiltbillings,

Yes it is a matter of choice if we become sad or happy. Unfortunately that choice is ignored by most people - will you not agree with me?

:anjali:
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Re: Facebook & Suffering

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jul 07, 2014 5:23 am

No_Mind wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
No_Mind wrote:Anyone will become depressed if repeatedly ten percent of the group makes false and/or boastful claims.
Only one chooses to do so.


Hello Mr Tiltbillings,

Yes it is a matter of choice if we become sad or happy. Unfortunately that choice is ignored by most people - will you not agree with me?

:anjali:
But then why are you opting go the sad route in relation to FB? Why should you give a rat's ass what others are saying?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Facebook & Suffering

Postby No_Mind » Mon Jul 07, 2014 5:42 am

tiltbillings wrote: But then why are you opting go the sad route in relation to FB? Why should you give a rat's ass what others are saying?


To be honest Mr Tiltbillings - you cannot imagine the kind of show off my friends are (even at age 40). One openly called me a loser out of the blue for never having traveled abroad by age 38. I was shocked. I contemplated suicide that night. To be humiliated out of the blue in front of 150 other people!! And I was always quiet in FB except my views regarding cricket and politics (Indian politics) and movies (my three favorite topics). I do not have fancy car or dine at fine restaurants that I can post pictures which is usual activity on FB.

And this friend knew me from kindergarten. I was agape at what people are capable of after knowing someone for 33 years. Since other friends are diplomatic (this fellow is a share broker and has tips) they kept silent although in private messages to me they consoled me. But they did not stop being his friend.

This was not fellows drinking at a pub and having had one too many and lets something slip. It was cold, calculated flaunting of a holiday in Australia (my friend was showing pictures of Australian beaches and I had said nice but our own beaches in Andaman and Goa are also very nice; to which he replied how will a guy like you who cannot afford a holiday abroad in late 30s know)

After that I visited FB to see updates but could never really "be there". And few days back I cancelled the account because the flaunting by my friends is growing (although not accompanied by rude comments to have-nots like me)

:anjali:

Later I learned (gossip) that he had always been "out" for me since in Grade 3 he had broken my nose while playing soccer at school and been suspended for a week. Grade 3 and age 38 :?
I will amend one point. I cannot re enter FB in front of those 150 who saw me humiliated. I can enter when I have sufficient volume of new people in my life
"I know one thing: that I know nothing"

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Re: Facebook & Suffering

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jul 07, 2014 6:04 am

No_Mind wrote:
tiltbillings wrote: But then why are you opting go the sad route in relation to FB? Why should you give a rat's ass what others are saying?


To be honest Mr Tiltbillings - you cannot imagine the kind of show off my friends are (even at age 40). One openly called me a loser out of the blue for never having traveled abroad by age 38. I was shocked. I contemplated suicide that night. To be humiliated out of the blue in front of 150 other people!! And I was always quiet in FB except my views regarding cricket and politics (Indian politics) and movies (my three favorite topics). I do not have fancy car or dine at fine restaurants that I can post pictures which is usual activity on FB.
Your choice to worry about what others think of you. And just because you have had crappy experiences on FB that does not mean it would be so for others.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Facebook & Suffering

Postby Mkoll » Mon Jul 07, 2014 6:31 am

No_Mind wrote:To be honest Mr Tiltbillings - you cannot imagine the kind of show off my friends are (even at age 40). One openly called me a loser out of the blue for never having traveled abroad by age 38. I was shocked. I contemplated suicide that night. To be humiliated out of the blue in front of 150 other people!! And I was always quiet in FB except my views regarding cricket and politics (Indian politics) and movies (my three favorite topics). I do not have fancy car or dine at fine restaurants that I can post pictures which is usual activity on FB.

And this friend knew me from kindergarten. I was agape at what people are capable of after knowing someone for 33 years. Since other friends are diplomatic (this fellow is a share broker and has tips) they kept silent although in private messages to me they consoled me. But they did not stop being his friend.

This was not fellows drinking at a pub and having had one too many and lets something slip. It was cold, calculated flaunting of a holiday in Australia (my friend was showing pictures of Australian beaches and I had said nice but our own beaches in Andaman and Goa are also very nice; to which he replied how will a guy like you who cannot afford a holiday abroad in late 30s know)

After that I visited FB to see updates but could never really "be there". And few days back I cancelled the account because the flaunting by my friends is growing (although not accompanied by rude comments to have-nots like me)

:anjali:

Later I learned (gossip) that he had always been "out" for me since in Grade 3 he had broken my nose while playing soccer at school and been suspended for a week. Grade 3 and age 38 :?
I will amend one point. I cannot re enter FB in front of those 150 who saw me humiliated. I can enter when I have sufficient volume of new people in my life

Well, I hope you've changed your friendships around since then. Anyone who would say such a mean and humiliating thing in public and not apologize about it (which I'm assuming he didn't do) is not a nice person. I suggest you stay away from those folks.
Peace,
James


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