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Is Facebook Our New Best Friend?

Is Facebook Our New Best Friend?


    Spending non-quality time on Facebook is something we all are guilty of; very few have managed to escape its web. From showing off to feeling lonely, Facebook has seen more sides of us than even some of our closest “peeps”.

    Now don’t get me wrong — I am well aware of the positive aspects that social networking brings to our society. From keeping in touch to expanding our horizon (and even networking), there are numerous benefits it has to offer. However if not used cautiously, social networking can take over our lives and leave behind a feeling of discontent and emptiness, irrespective of how many status updates we continue to post.

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    Here are a few reasons why you should avoid over-indulging in the world of Facebook (and other social networks) and revisit the wonders of the real world.

    You Don’t Actually Have Hundreds of Friends

    Let’s be honest: no one does.

    Facebook has managed to soften the line between ‘acquaintances’ and ‘friends’, giving us the illusion that everyone is our pal. Not only that, but somehow quality is discounted and one is perceived by the quantity of friends they keep.

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    Ensure that you can distinguish between people that are close to your heart from those that are close to the ‘Like’ button in the endless realm of Facebook. Make ‘real’ time for your ‘real’ friends. Though Facebook might excel in getting people closer, it is equally sophisticated in adding distance between relationships that we might overlook.

    Status Updates are More Fun in Person

    Have we all forgotten the joys of screaming out your engagement plans or the news about getting a promotion in person? Does the exciting news of expecting a niece or a nephew sound equally thrilling when you hear it through Facebook? Have our lives really gotten so busy that we consciously choose to deprive ourselves of the love and affection sharing such moments in person or over a phone call can offer?

    To me, these are the little joys of life that I wouldn’t want to miss out on simply for the sake of convenience. Aren’t these happy emotions simply going to waste when there is no one to receive them? Have you ever looked back at an event and cherished Facebook ‘Likes’ over the shocked and excited faces of your friends — or that screaming hug from your sibling?

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    Sometimes ‘Too Much Information’ Does Exist

    Though Facebook might bring us to conclude that everything is public information, be assured that it is not true. We all know of people whose life you could simply live through their status updates or Twitter feed. From what they had for lunch to the color of their workout shoes, does the world really need to know it all?

    Though information is much easier to share in the virtual world, we forget the fact that not everything is for everyone’s ears. Consciously or unconsciously, we are influencing our circle and also the world’s perception about us. Your young niece doesn’t need to know about your party weekends and your grandpa can live without hearing about your ex’s. Save the world the trouble!

    Constant Search for Attention Can Be Heartbreaking

    Facebook secretly converts everyone into attention seekers whether you admit it or not. Though I’ve never spent extended periods of time on Facebook, it doesn’t take long to realize that you feel left out when nothing is ‘happening’ in your life worth updating the world about. Subconsciously we end up comparing our lives to everyone else’s and the feeling of despair creeps in.

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    We need to let go of identifying ourselves with our Facebook page and recognize that our actions or inactions in our daily lives is what determines our self-worth. Not only will this prevent us from turning into Facebook maniacs — constantly clicking pictures of ourselves and everything that we do in the desperate quest for more ‘Likes’ — but it will also free up a great deal of our time, which is then available for whatever our heart may desire.

    Though very few of us will admit to be addicted to Facebook, most of us can agree that we spend more time on it than we would like. To fully utilize the benefits of social networking, just like everything else, one needs to practice the art of balance. Leave a ‘hello’ on the wall of a friend that’s across the miles and indulge in a dessert with a cup of coffee with someone who is only a few minutes away. Update your profile picture for those who cannot see you in person and for the rest…dress to impress.

    Let’s be honest…there is no way a ‘Like’ can make you blush the way a real compliment does.

    (Photo credit: Finger Community via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on January 15, 2021

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

    Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

    Posture

    First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

    • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
    • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
    • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
    • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

    All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

    Facial Expressions

    Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

    • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
    • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
    • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

    If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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    1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

    A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

    The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

    This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

    2. Relax Your Face

    New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

    The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

    To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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    3. Improve Your Eye Contact

    Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

    The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

    To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

    3. Smile More

    There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

    Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

    4. Hand Gestures

    Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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    It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

    5. Enhance Your Handshake

    In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

    “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

    It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

    6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

    As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

    Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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    Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

    Final Takeaways

    Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

    If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

    More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

    Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

    Reference

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