6 ways Facebook ruins your life


“Till Facebook does us part.” People who spend hours every day on the social networking site are more likely to get divorced than those who don’t use it, finds a new study in Computers in Human Behavior.

It could be that people in crappy relationships are just more likely to spend time avoiding their spouses by posting statuses and liking photos, says study coauthor Sebastian Valenzuela, Ph.D., of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. On the other hand, Facebook exposes you to old flings and new mates, makes sneaking around on your wife easier to hide, and also leads to addictive behaviors–all of which won’t do your marriage any favors, Valenzuela adds. (Heading for the altar? You might be surprised at these 5 Signs Your Marriage Will Last.)

Like the old “guns don’t kill people . . . people kill people” line, you can’t blame all your problems on Mark Zuckerberg. But a broken marriage isn’t the only bad thing researchers have linked to Facebook use.

It saps your motivation to give back. “Liking” or showing support for charity organizations on Facebook lowers the odds that you’ll donate your time or money to those causes, finds research from the University of British Columbia. Your public thumbs-up satisfies your desire to look charitable in front of others and makes you feel good about yourself, which wipes out your motivation to volunteer time or cash, the researchers say.

It crushes your mood. The more time you spend on Facebook, the more your attitude sours, shows a study from Austria. You probably realize that staring at profiles and pictures isn’t a very productive use of your time. And the recognition that you’ve wasted a big chunk of your day on something meaningless clouds your mood, the researchers explain. (Excessive smartphone use can have a negative impact on your life. Here are five reasons you might want to power down.)

It makes you dumb. After looking at their own Facebook pages for 5 minutes, people took 15 percent longer to answer simple math questions. That’s because your profile inflates your ego, which undercuts your brain’s motivation to perform, say the researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

It renders your life unsatisfying. The more you surf, the less satisfied you feel about life in general, indicates a study from the University of Michigan. It’s inevitable that some of your friends will be posting about the fun, interesting stuff they’re doing. And contrasting your own boring life to theirs–something Facebook basically forces you to do–could explain these negative consequences, the authors say.

It leaves you lonely. Scanning your friends’ profiles increases feelings of social exclusion and “invisibility,” finds research from Australia. Because you’re observing your buddies but not interacting with them, you feel cut off or left out, the study suggests. (The good news: If you actively post things–pics, updates–and your pals respond to your posts, these bad feelings go away, the study shows.)

How to negotiate a raise like a pro


This piece, by author and career coach Stacia Pierce, speaks to five barriers many of us face when negotiating for more money, and a few of them rang particularly true to me.

Know Your Worth
Pierce writes, “Do research on the salary of people in your position. Don’t just consider the average; see what the highest pay is as well. Compare skill sets and accomplishments to determine a number that you would feel comfortable asking for.” It’s smart advice to push yourself to ask for pay on the higher side. Your future or current employer is going to try and bring that number down, so why not start a little higher?

Don’t Accept an Offer That’s “Good Enough”
Even if someone is offering more than you’re currently making, that doesn’t mean it’s enough to uproot yourself from your current role. Pierce writes, “Just because you’re being offered more than you’ve made, don’t assume that the amount is all that you can get. Consider the entire compensation package. Benefits, stock options, vacation, bonus, and your office space can also be considered during negotiation. You should also think about the tools you need to succeed. For example, an assistant could make a huge difference in your success.”

Get as Much as You Can Out of a Promotion
I spoke with Pierce about that first big promotion, and she told me, “Just because you are up for a promotion doesn’t mean you have to take what is given to you. You too have leverage. For one, it costs companies more to hire externally than internally.” This is totally true—and even more reason to feel confident about exploring all options. Which leads to Pierce’s next (and in my opinion, best!) point…

Ask Lots of Questions!
“When you’re about to take your first management position, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Not only should you ask what is expected of you, also inquire about what you need to succeed,” says Pierce. Ask questions such as, ‘Can you tell me where I’d be working? Does this position include a private office where I can focus on achieving my corporate goals?’ Be sure to explain why the private space is necessary for you to provide excellent service on the job.”

When You Have an Offer, Counter
“Once you’ve been made an offer, prepare your counteroffer with confidence. Focus on your strengths and ability to create more increase for the company overall,” Pierce told me. “Show in a chart or PowerPoint how you’ve succeeded at your current position and how you can advance in your new position. Let your boss know that you’re aware of the salary range for someone in this position, then specifically ask for what you want. ‘Considering the salary range for others in this position is around $50,000 to $75,000, and the fact that I’ve already taken the initiative of performing many of the duties in this new position, I would like a $7,000 raise.’ By requesting a specific amount, you are setting the standard of which they can negotiate from.”

Keep the Conversation Positive
Some parting words of wisdom that I couldn’t agree with more. “Whatever you do, never present an ultimatum. This can turn a good opportunity sour,” Pierce says. “Communicate clearly that you appreciate the opportunity for advancement and are interested in a win-win situation.”