Study: Facebook Makes Users Feel Miserable And Jealous
Does Facebook help you feel connected with friends and family, or depressed that your life doesn’t measure up when compared to your “friends” successes? German researchers say the latter is more often true. A new study from Berlin’s Humboldt University and Darmstadt’s Technical University found positive images of friends enjoying holidays, commenting on their happy lives and even posting photos of their pets can trigger feelings of jealousy and depression among Facebook users.
The studies found rather than fostering feelings of belonging, Facebook can actually make users feel socially isolated and depressed. The researchers claim one in three people who visit Facebook report increased feelings of “general dissatisfaction” with life.
In the study, a Facebook test group reported highest feelings of dissatisfaction when viewing photos of their “friends” at holiday gatherings, followed by status updates babbling on about their fabulous lives and wonderful jobs.
On participant, for example, reported feelings of depression after noticing a Facebook friend received more birthday greetings on the site than she had.
“Success, talents and possessions lead to reactions of envy,” researchers said. “Envy can proliferate in social networks and be intensified through positive tracking.”
Feelings of envy can be magnified given that most users try to depict themselves as positive as possible and, therefore, only post statuses that portray them as such.
“Everyone who is posting is always trying to depict themselves as well as possible and therefore the posts are predominantly positive.”
Of the 600 study participants, 30 percent cited envy as the main source of Facebook unhappiness, while 36 percent stated they were “sometimes” or “very often” frustrated after visiting Facebook.
“We have scientifically demonstrated that online networks provided access to lots of positive news and profiles from successful ‘friends’ that trigger jealousy,” Humboldt University’s Hanna Krasnova said.
The researchers concluded that people who spend a great deal of time on social network sites are in danger of becoming socially isolated and depressed. Furthermore, “Facebook stalkers,” or those who simply read others’ statuses and don’t post on their own tended to be the most dissatisfied.
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