Dear Mr Daniel Gulati,
I disagree with your inferences in HBR that Facebook Is Making Us Miserable .
Your three points are:
1) comparison mania
2) time suck
3) less “real-world” relationships.
Naysayers have been providing the same reasons about any new technology for centuries — blaming railways, cars, radio, recorded music, the phone, TV, video, computers, the Internet, mobile phones, Twitter — now even iPads — for supposedly making us all “miserable”.
Let’s face it, we aren’t any more miserable today than we were in the 18th century. (In fact, Steven Pinker goes so far as to argue in The Better Angels of Our Nature that violence has declined and that we have never lived through more peaceful times as we do now).
I doubt if Facebook makes us any more miserable, suicidal, violent, sick or depressed, than we were before 2003 and making that inference by extrapolating from small-sample research is just wrong.
Here are my three counterpoints:
1) Comparison mania: People have been “keeping up with the Joneses” for ages and painting a better picture of your life than it actually is is a human weakness that existed long before the Internet came along.
2) Time suck: Our media diet now includes print, music, photos, videos, movies, email, tweets, social network updates, etc. FB is just another tool we’ll adjust to.
3) Less “real-world” relationships: A relationship improves only if you work on it. When it’s mediated through screens, it doesn’t make it “unreal” or less “rich” as having “in-person meetings.”
We live in both worlds – online/offline, virtual/real – some us have found the balance, a few of us haven’t. Our relationships have the potential to be more varied in degree and diversity than even before. You make it as rich and as close as you want it to be. How can that possibly make you more miserable?