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The social network company, Facebook, has seen several changes, since 2005, in the way the platform has been used. It started as a way for individuals to show day to day activities in one’s life. The platform has morphed into a portal where there are hundreds of reasons why one would go onto Facebook. Some of these have been positive and some negative, but there is one thing for sure; it takes a lot of time out of many peoples lives.


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Fast-forward 13 years, with over 2.19 billion (monthly active users), you have a society that has become obsessed with posting photos of their adorable cat, their child’s first tooth, their selfie at the hair salon, the orange juice all over the kitchen floor… We’ve created a virtual life for ourselves and forgotten that we have a real one. We’ve created this world where we want to feel “normal”, included, and like we fit-in.


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And to add to that, Facebook has a history – your history – of posts, photos and memories from the past 10 to 13 years. That being said, you probably can’t imagine your life without (or before) Facebook. I can’t. But why?

Former Facebook President, Sean Parker, said the thought process that went into designing the platform was straightforward: “How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?”


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So, how is this affecting us and how has it changed our interaction with our neighbours.

Relationships.

Research has shown that the use of social media may detract from face-to-face relationships and reduce investment in meaningful relationships.

Facebook has made us forget the true meaning of calling someone your friend. And, I’m sure if you deleted Facebook, you’d quickly find out which people fit that description.


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But that’s ok. It’s actually great! Because they’re the ones that matter. They are the ones that are truly worthy of your time – and you’ll have so much more time for them.

Do you have your neighbour on Facebook? Compare the amount of time you’ve spoken to them in real-life, verses how many times you’ve “liked” one of their posts.

And yes, Facebook neighbourhood groups are definitely helpful regarding what is happening in your community. But it can include misdirected or non-useful information being shared. Groups only have one feed with all community information which leaves a lot of room for clutter.

OurHood allows you to post in your neighbourhood in different sections, such Classifieds, General and Crime & Safety. Categorising sections allows for a streamlined flow of information to users.


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This way, we get to say what we’d like to say, inform each other of happenings around us, and build relationships rather than unintentionally annoy one other.

Procrastination.

When you are innocently sitting at work, busy on your computer, with your cell phone next to your laptop… And when you look again, you’ve unconsciously opened the Facebook app on your phone.


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How? Why? When? For what? You close the app and put your phone down. Five minutes later, your phone is in your hand again and you don’t know how it happened.

Nevermind all the notifications constantly streaming in. Are they relevant? Or are they just letting you know that your someone tagged you in a picture of a squirrel skiing? Which you end up watching. And then afterwards you can’t remember what you were initially doing.


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With OurHood, you can choose which notifications you want to see. If you are concerned about an increase in crime in your neighbourhood, you can switch off all other notifications in the other categories.

“Through a series of studies, researchers concluded that by the time people log out of Facebook, they feel like they’ve wasted their time. Their remorse over being unproductive causes them to feel sad,” says Amy Morin, a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, college psychology instructor and internationally recognized expert on mental strength.

This brings us to our next topic:

Mental Health.

I just looked up now, and the first person I saw was on their phone. Is checking to see if anyone has “liked” that picture of her health-conscious breakfast yet. Granted, they only just posted it a few minutes ago, but how will they know if someone else approved of their effort to better herself if she doesn’t check?


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Why do we do this? Is it for a short-lived self-esteem boost?

Researchers Holly Shakya of the University of California, San Diego, and Nicholas Christakis of the Human Nature Lab at Yale University found that both liking others’ content and clicking links, “significantly predicted a subsequent reduction in self-reported physical health, mental health, and life satisfaction.”

Is she eating that healthy breakfast because she saw a photo of a girl from high school (who she isn’t even – and was never – friends with), on the beach in Thailand, in a bikini?


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Self-comparison can be a strong (and dangerous) influence on human behaviour, and because people tend to display the most positive aspects of their lives on Facebook, it is possible for an individual to believe that their own life compares negatively to what they see presented by others.

This is most common amongst children and adolescents. Professor Emerita of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amher, Susan Krauss Whitbourne, wrote an article for www.psychologytoday.com, and said: “Based on your personality, you may interpret the posts of your friends in a way that differs from the way in which someone else thinks about them… If you’re not as secure about how much you’re liked by others, you’ll regard that posting in a less favorable light and see it as a clear-cut case of ostracism.”

Professionalism.

As humans, we can’t help but judge other humans.

And, of course, when you apply for a job, a potential employer now has the opportunity to search for you on Facebook, and use your personal profile as an indication of the type of person you are, and if they think you’re fit for the position or not.


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So, you might think not think anything of a photo with your friends last Saturday at the time, it was very funny, but your potential future employer might not think so. Without knowing it, one small thing you post could jeopardise your future in some way.

OurHood has been designed to find out what is happening in your community, or where you could help your community by volunteering at a local food bank. Impress your potential future employer by adding a bullet point as a community leader to your CV, and possibly even posting these photos to OurHood.


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Privacy.

Facebook was scrutinised earlier this year for not protecting its users’ information, and not doing more when they found out about the data misuse.

Although Cambridge Analytica didn’t hack Facebook to get this data, the company was able to get millions of users’ information — without their permission — because of a loophole in Facebook’s API. This loophole made it possible for third-party app developers to collect data on those who used the app.


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It might be time for you to rethink how you are using your time and whether there are alternatives to being on Facebook, which will positively improve your well-being.

OurHood wants to promote the use of technology to increase effective communication with your neighbour. The platform should be used to fix problems which often require face-to-face communication or action. Four hands are better than two…..

Asking your neighbours for a tool to fix something or for some help on a problem can lead to a new friendship. Put your phone down and go over to your neighbour who you always see doing some woodwork in his garage, and chat to him about your idea to build a pallet couch for your braai area. Maybe he’ll end up helping you, and you can invite him over for a braai to thank him.


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There is a flow of positive endorphins that comes from stimulating your brain and reaching a goal. So, paint a picture. Build a puzzle. Go for a walk on the mountain. Have a conversation with, well, anyone really. Try cooking something new, and invite your neighbours for dinner.


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And so what if the first time you tried to cook a Sunday Roast and accidentally burnt it. That’s great! Try again! Or try something different, ask someone to help. But don’t give up.