I love Facebook. It is by far the most powerful tool for keeping up to date with the people in your social network. Like many of you, I have come to rely on the service to know where in the world my friends and family are and what fabulous adventures they are having. There’s a problem though. According to several studies, in certain situations, using Facebook can actually make you more anxious or even depressed.

For example, researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia found that using Facebook primarily to see what your friends are doing can lead to envy, which, in turn, can lead to depression.

When you think about it, this makes total sense. We usually only see the most significant moments in our friends’ lives on Facebook – their trips to exotic places, weddings, grandchildren and accomplishments.

If you are not careful, it’s easy to compare your life unfairly to the ideal that others present.

To be clear, I’m not saying that you should abandon Facebook if you want to be happy. Facebook is a tool, just like any other technology. But, it probably does make sense to be more conscious about the way that you use the service. For example, do you use Facebook to send messages to your friends? Do you take the time to engage in conversations in groups like my own Sixty and Me community? If not, why not?

Facebook is so much more than just a way to stay up to date on what other people are doing. But, to get the most from it, we have to be willing to take a few emotional risks and join the conversation.

As Joan Baez said, “The easiest kind of relationship for me is with 10,000 people. The hardest is with one.”

“The easiest kind of relationship for me is with 10,000 people. The hardest is with one.” - Joan Baez

Let’s stop pretending that following our friends on Facebook is the same as building meaningful friendships. Let’s focus on the few people in our lives that have the potential to make us truly happy.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you sometimes find yourself using some of the more “passive” features on Facebook, without engaging in deeper conversations? Do you think that modern society focused too much on helping us to follow acquaintances rather than building friendships? Why or why not? Please join the discussion.

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