A recent study has shown that the envy some of us feel when browsing Facebook could have a negative effect on us psychologically, potentially leading to depression. Users of the social networking site are often exposed to the successes of others, be it in material ways or romantically, so it’s no secret that the site can cause bad feelings in some.
Researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia have discovered that using the site might impact users negatively due to a link between feelings of envy while browsing and feelings of depression. Users who use their profile to ‘stalk’ others are apparently more likely to feel the ill effects.
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Of course, the site isn’t all bad – Facebook use is not only interesting and even educational for some, but the site does encourage good feelings by allowing users to share the things that make them happy, although to some these triumphs may cause the aforementioned envy.
Margaret Duffy, one of the lead researchers on the study, said that “if Facebook is used to see how well an acquaintance is doing financially or how happy an old friend is in his relationship–things that cause envy among users–use of the site can lead to feelings of depression.”
The site’s access to our lives and information has an undesired effect of giving ‘on paper’ statistics of how well people are doing in certain ways. These statistics mean that users can measure what they perceive as the value of their on lives up against those of others, and their perceptions based on these things can have negative effects.
The amount of Facebook friends, relationship statuses, as well as jobs people are working at can all be compared to ones own via the site, and this is just one of the things that can cause the envious reaction. But it’s not just the statistics that can cause the bad feelings – activities, photos and other things also contribute.
“We found that if Facebook users experience envy of the activities and lifestyles of their friends on Facebook, they are much more likely to report feelings of depression.” Said Duffy.
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There are people out there whom you might feel are better off than you in life, whether it’s in the looks department, their relationships with people or the things they do, but life is often more complicated than what we post on Facebook, and what others post is a often overly positive.
Facebook is a sort of front, in a way. We are all different from how we present ourselves online, and the ‘persona’ people adopt on the site often is one of self promotion. People’s walls might make out that they’re having a great time 24/7, but often this is a facsimile of what is truly real. Oh, and you’re great just the way you are. Take care.
Source: Science Daily