I would read these papers and articles and sometimes wonder, "Man! Why didn't they call me as a subject for one of these studies?". For once upon a time, I was also bitten by the Facebook envy bug. I wasn't going through a particularly sorted/organized/conventionally happy phase in my life. So when I saw others' lives just "working out" for them, I used to feel extremely ungrateful. And I choose that word with a lot of thought because the basic feeling that drives envy is, in my humble opinion, a lack of gratitude. Even in moments of crisis, if you just take a few minutes and think about what you have, and are grateful for, the situation seems less stressful.
When being on Facebook started making me unhappy, my first reflex was to blame all the happy people on my timeline for their happiness (and it made my situation worse). Then I did what so many others do. I deactivated my account. That did not help because it was hard to stay in touch with people I had met during my travels. So I came back and decided to filter my friend list. That helped a lot. I was down to about 200 something friends from some 700+ I had before. I chose to delete people with whom I was sure I was never going to stay in touch on a personal level. People you meet TAing or RAing during your PhD, extended social circles focused on just one activity that you no longer are a part of, friends' friends, people who read your blog but who have never actually met you -- basically people, who, I was sure won't really miss me or get hurt.
Then I took a good look at what was it that was actually wrong with my life. My envy was a mirror of my own mind. And covering the mirror is not the solution. I tried to fix those issues to the best of my ability at that time. One of the tools I used was meditation. I shall be eternally grateful to the guided meditations made available by Audio Dharma. This website has helped me cope with some of the hardest transitions and times in my life. And I realized that being grateful is important to feeling hopeful or happy; and there is always something to be grateful for. Just that one practice of being actively grateful helped me reduce my habit of comparing my life with that of others.
When I realized how much stress I went through just passively looking at others' pictures and posts, I decided for myself that my FB profile is going to be something that would never lead to such comparison or stress among people on my list. It was hard to come up with rules (and it is still work in progress), that satisfy this condition. But nonetheless I came up with a few.
1. I post things that are not too personal but inspire me (and hopefully would also inspire others) such as pictures, quotes, good music, art blogs and comics.
2. I post links to videos, newspaper articles that would help me step out of my own life and look at the big picture.
3. I don't express my own political views (unless something really outrageous happens) on my timeline. And I try not to read these kind of posts by others, or interact with people who regularly post this kind of content.
It has been more than a year now that I have applied these rules. And when I go through my timeline, I feel happy about my choice. It has actually helped me detach from both the happy and sad parts or my everyday life. Going through my timeline is also a source of strength now because it always takes me back to things that I enjoy reading, watching and listening to. It is like a giant wall full of inspiring stuff. A little bit like Pinterest, but more interactive.
So, I think I use my Facebook to inspire myself. What do you use it for? :)