Aisling Bumgardner lives in Florida, but she was born in Ireland and has lots of family back in Europe. Her mom is one of seven siblings and her dad is one of five, so using social media to stay in touch with cousins, aunts, and uncles is vital.
"Sometimes it would be years in between trips to Ireland. I'd see cousins who I was really close to as a kid and then three or four years later we were teenagers and didn't know anything about each other. Now, I get to see these cousins I love and their kids growing up, dating, and getting married. I would not be able to do that without Facebook," the 29-year-old mom of two shares. She and her husband recently built their own home and she posted photos of the construction, allowing extended family to see the progress.
Yet, the same platform she uses for staying in touch has also created feelings of envy and comparison: "We have young kids at home and they are our priority. I see people's posts and we would love to go on a date whenever or go on a vacation [like them], but that's not in the cards right now. We are definitely in a season of diapers, toilet training, and laundry."
Facebook turned ten in February and experts have been weighing in on the effects of the granddaddy of social media. Like Aisling, for many users Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest provide a way to share life in real time, but recent studies have also found the positive connections tempered by feelings of envy and sadness. Photos, a friend's status change from single to married, and even the number of "likes" and comments on a person's wall can trigger negative feelings.1