Is Facebook doing you any good?


We don't own a TV at home and we don't usually read news. Mrs. T and I are not ignorant, we simply think that 99% of all news are sad and depressing. Because the sad and depressing nature, we decided that there's no point wasting our time. With that said, because I'm an investor, it is necessary to follow financial news to understand how businesses, that we own, are doing. I've been getting most of the news from blogs and other financial sites like Seeking Alpha. When it comes to truly important news, I'll eventually read about them on Facebook. This is why I like using Facebook. It allows me to get some of the most information through my friends. But when I examine how Facebook affects my life, it has a greater impact than just providing news.

If you use Facebook, you know that people share a lot of personal information. People provide updates on what they're doing and post pictures when they are on vacation, eating out, or having a good time. Although Facebook is a great way to get important news, follow people, and catch up with friends, I believe Facebook is doing more harms than benefits when it comes to living a frugal lifestyle.


When you see where your friends went on vacation, what fancy gadget they recently purchased, where they went for dinner, or what they did for the weekend, does that make you feel a little jealous? Does this make you want to post pictures next time you are on vacation or when you do something spectacular for the weekend simply to show off?

What if you were not invited to a party or a social event that most of your friends attended? Do you feel that you got left out? Does this make you want to do whatever you can, to get invited for the next party?

Seeing status updates and pictures on Facebook may subconsciously make you want to post similar updates in the future as well. We all have a tendency to follow the trend and Facebook just allows us to follow the trend on an even faster pace than before. If you ponder for a second, this is exactly what "keeping up with the Joneses" means. Facebook allows us to keep up with the Joneses on a completely different level. Instead of trying to keep up with our neighbours, we're now trying to keep up with our friends and the other 1.28 billion active Facebook users in the world. We're comparing our friends' lifestyles with our own. Our desire to keep up to make ourselves feel better eventually consumes the best of us.

This is a dangerous game to play and that's why all personal finance books state that you should not keep up with the Jones. This concept is really easy in theory but extremely difficult to do in practice, especially in the social media age that we live in today. For example, if I look at my Facebook feed right now, I see the following:

1. videos of the ice bucket challenge
2. Food pictures when friends are eating out
3. Vacation pictures from Chicago, and Las Vegas
4. Pictures of people on their sailboats drinking beer, having a good time

What might be my reactions?

1. I have not been "invited" to do the ice bucket challenge, I feel left out.

2. I feel that I should go out and eat a fancy dinner tomorrow so I can share some pictures too!

3. Wow Chicago and Las Vegas look nice. I wish I could be there too. So jealous. Perhaps I will book a trip to Las Vegas so I can have some fun too!

4. I wish I could be on a sailboat, drink beer, and party like my friends too. Why don't I try my best to get invited next time? Better yet, why don't I take out a loan and purchase my own sailboat?

Do these reactions serve me? Absolutely not! But it's human nature to feel this way. If this is your initial reaction, I believe in the long run it will have a negative impact to your frugal lifestyle. You're living in a constant fear of missing out and wanting to keep up with other people around you.

My best suggestion? Stop using Facebook completely. Yes it's hard but it can be done.

If you're like me and can't cut off Facebook completely, maybe only check once every couple days or less.

Ultimately you need to stop comparing your frugal lifestyle with your friends' extravagant lives. Stop living vicariously through your friends and stop trying to become like them. You're unique so quit being like other people. Furthermore people generally tend to post only the best things about their lives on Facebook. Grass is always greener on the other side. Ignorance is a bliss, start practicing!

Do you envy your friends when you see their Facebook updates?

Note: When I think about it more, the "keeping up with the Joneses" phenomenon occurs with any other social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and etc. Watch out!

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  • Reply
    September 5, 2014 at 1:01 am

    I use Facebook to find out what my friends are up to so when I see them next time in real life we'd have something to talk about. I don't get jealous of the normal kinds of posts like selfies, or pictures of food, or vacations, etc. It doesn't bother me because I know I have the same options as my friends, but I intentionally choose to live my life differently 🙂 Pretty much anyone can fly to Rome or Paris to window shop for a week and spend a few thousand dollars round trip. But I'd rather enjoy a stay-cation at home or go ski for a full day at Whistler, and spend my money instead on investments to earn interest and dividends. But what would annoy me is if a coworker revealed on Facebook that the boss gave him a $10,000 raise when the rest of us didn't get anything. Because then it becomes something I can't control and I would probably be upset about it. However nothing like that has ever happened before lol.

    • Reply
      September 5, 2014 at 9:16 am

      Using Facebook to catch up with friends is way to utilize the website. It just gets tricky when you start comparing your life with your friends.

  • Reply
    Daisy @ Prairie Eco Thrifter
    September 5, 2014 at 6:47 am

    I deleted the Facebook app off of my phone (but then I went and got rid of my data plan, so there's that, too), and I haven't missed it. I will be keeping Facebook because I have a massive family all over the country and it's by far the easiest way to stay in touch, but it's nice to lessen the usage of it.

    • Reply
      September 5, 2014 at 9:15 am

      I never installed the Facebook app on my smartphone. 🙂

  • Reply
    Money Pincher
    September 5, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    I use facebook prob once a day to check updates. I usually don't envy their updates as I am pretty content with what I have and what I have done.

    However, the thought of "that's a good idea, I could have done that" usually comes to my head when I do go through the updates or if I see something unique or interesting that pops out to me.

  • Reply
    September 5, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    I was really into Facebook back in the day when it was only for college/university students - then went through a phase of posting a tremendous amount and spending waaaay too much time on it. But over the last few years, I've actively shunned Facebook. I only use it to check my messages because it is such a convenient way to stay connected with friends. I rarely look on the newsfeed anymore.

    Once you go without it for awhile(just like cable tv) you don't even realize you're missing out on anything at all! It's a good place to be!

    • Reply
      September 5, 2014 at 8:02 pm

      Hi Steve,

      I should maybe do what you're doing. I check Facebook here and there but still find myself spending too much time on there.

  • Reply
    Justin @ Root of Good
    September 5, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    Facebook is a tool, just like many other tools. Use it for what it's good for and then put it down. I get a lot of news from FB and tend to ignore the regular news sites. I also find out about stuff happening on a local level (in the neighborhood, in the kids' school, etc).

    It can suck you in and waste your time if you let it though!

    • Reply
      September 5, 2014 at 8:02 pm

      Hi Justin,

      Very true, Facebook is just a tool but like any other tools you can end up wasting a lot of time on it. 🙂

  • Reply
    Henry @ Living At Home
    September 5, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    Not going to lie, I frequent Facebook quite often. That's mainly how I keep in touch with friends and coworkers nowadays. But it's true, sometimes I think my life is pretty boring compare to how others are showcasing their lives.

    Just curious, what do you think of Facebook, the stock haha?


    • Reply
      September 5, 2014 at 8:53 pm

      Hi Henry,

      I think social media stocks like Facebook and Twitter are overvalued. I don't see how the companies are making the money. The evaluation is way off. They kind of remind me of those internet company stocks that eventually dropped like a rock back in 2000/2001.

  • Reply
    LeisureFreak Tommy
    September 6, 2014 at 10:22 am

    I only use facebook to check what my favorite businesses are offering. It seems I find the best deals and listed special events are often only posted there. It would take quite a bit of boredom (never happens) for me to look at all the stuff posted from friends and family. As you said, everything that they are doing and have done. Too much of a time-suck.

  • Reply
    No More Waffles
    September 7, 2014 at 11:41 am

    Facebook was awesome when I was still in college because it allowed me to keep up with events and look up fun pictures from the night before. After graduating my entire feed turned into a big wall of "look at how awesome my life is". I still have my account and check my messages once every week, but that's about it.

    Great post, Tawcan!

  • Reply
    Dividend Life
    September 7, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    I'm hopeless at updating or even looking at my facebook page. I might look at it every 4 months or so if I can remember the password.
    I tend to prefer calling or emailing a friend directly than texting or broadcasting an update on a social media site. And my friends will say I'm not very good at emailing either!
    Interesting post though and I'm sure some people do things only because it will "look cool on facebook".
    Best wishes,

  • Reply
    September 9, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    FB is such a waste of time. I don't have a personal account on it. I don't have account for my blog on it either. Not looking to get sucked into any more time wasting that I already do online. I don't feel left out or like I'm missing anything either.

  • Reply
    Dividend Digger
    September 10, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    Interesting read Tawcan. I deleted facebook about a year ago it feels pretIy good, I'm used to the lack of Facebook now and i feel more productive, I know I do alot more useful reading now a days haha. One thing I would like to add is how society deems it "okay" to post pictures of brand new purchases to discretely "show off" but if someone were to post a picture of their portfolio or monthly pay checks it would be deemed as a douchey thing. Funny how society works.


    • Reply
      September 13, 2014 at 5:40 pm

      Hi Ace,

      Very interesting thought. I'd agree, people would think you're showing off if you start posting a picture of your portfolio or monthly pay cheques. Society works in a very funny way.


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