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Facebook: Harmful or helpful?

In the past few years of my life, I’ve had the overwhelming experience of witnessing a shift of values in my own generation, as well as the generation before mine. This shift has been characterized almost solely by the integration of social networking into the everyday lives of the people around me. 

Social networking was, and still is, the predominant way of connecting with old friends, new friends and people you don’t even know.

So many people have warned us about the harmful nature of immoderate technology use. More startling than this warning is scientific research on the effects of technology on your brain, which shows that excessive use of technology, including the constant use of Facebook, negatively effects the brain.

According to a 2010 study conducted and published by the New York Times, all that downtime spent on Facebook isn’t really downtime. The brain needs quiet time, away from the stimulation of being on the computer, in order to process what it has experienced during the day to store it away for future reference. If the brain is constantly subjected to information browsing the latest gossip, checking sports scores, updating your status – it will not be able to pick out which information to store and which information to replace or disregard.

Studies show that because of this, attention spans are shorter, frustration levels run higher and with instant access to web pages like gambling sites, addiction rates have increased.

One aspect of this study included sending five psychologists on a trip without email access or cell phones in order to discover how the brain would function when separated from this constant technological overload.

The results were astounding. When submersed in nature, the brain was able to better process events from the day that allowed the researchers to create better memories. Also, their senses were sharpened, as their brains were not constantly subjected to technology.

Because of this, one of the researchers remarked that vacationing in nature was “restorative” for the brain.

Perhaps one of the most important discoveries made during this study is that the brain can not make distinctly new memories without discarding old memories, which it could not do with the constant overload of technology.

The anticipation of receiving an email, viewing what friends are doing on Facebook and messaging with friends all take up much needed memory space.

 

This is no excuse not to do online research for homework, but if you’re wondering why it has been so hard to recover from that breakup last year, why that homework pile seems to just be getting larger with no relief or why you always just seem so tired, take a nice, long look at what you spend your time doing.

There is a solution to ease this overload on the brain. It’s painful, hard to say and harder to acknowledge, but so very simple: deactivate your Facebook page.

For me, deleting my Facebook page may have been the best decision that I have ever made. This has left me more time to do the things that I love.

The truth is that all of the toxicity of Facebook has no place in an already stress-ridden society.

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