Facebook Use Can Leave You Feeling Frustrated, Envious
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
There are plenty of reasons to dislike certain gargantuan social networking sites. Claims of “timesuck” and criticisms over the bungling of their own privacy policies are common for Facebook at this point, but researchers have been hard at work to uncover just how harmful Facebook can be to a human being.
For example, Dr. Peter Buxmann with the Department of Information Systems of the TU Darmstadt and Dr. Hanna Krasnova with the Institute of Information Systems of the Humboldt-UniversitÃ¤t zu Berlin have recently wrapped up research which found Facebook can leave its users feeling frustrated and unsatisfied.
According to Doctors Buxmann and Krasnova, Facebookers leave their social networking experience feeling envious of their “Friends” and their pictures of adventures, delicious meals, sonograms or drunken conquests.
“Although respondents were reluctant to admit feeling envious while on Facebook, they often presumed that envy can be the cause behind the frustration of ℠others´ on this platform – a clear indication that envy is a salient phenomenon in the Facebook context,” wrote Dr. Krasnova in this new study. “Indeed, access to copious positive news and the profiles of seemingly successful ℠friends´ fosters social comparison that can readily provoke envy.”
In a sense, Facebook has become a giant platform for showing off vacation photographs. While this is in and of itself not a particularly bad thing, the doctors have pointed out that seeing hundreds of pictures from hundreds of friends can send Facebookers into a vicious “envy spiral.”
This can then lead to users embellishing certain elements about their lives in their Facebook profiles, sending others to sling headfirst into their own spiral of envy.
This study also found that those who are less active on the social network, using it primarily to keep up with their friends´ activities are more likely to feel jealous and discontent with their life when they log out of the site. Facebook has become so large with so many of these casual users, it has also become particularly troubling for these doctors.
After surveying these Facebookers, the doctors say users link the negative feelings they have from their Facebook experience with the way they feel about their own life. After reading about how great their friends are and how much fun they have as they traverse life, Facebookers will often feel as if their lives are particularly unsatisfactory.
Other studies have been released as recently as one month ago which suggest Facebook also makes its users fat as well. In December, a study disagreed with this latest study, saying Facebookers can also walk away from their time surfing profiles feeling better about themselves. However, this boost of self-esteem may send some of these users to celebrate their superiority by indulging in some unhealthy snacks.
Of the 500 Facebookers surveyed in the December study, 470 were found to have a higher Body Mass Index than those who did not use Facebook as often. To study this effect, users were asked to surf Facebook or CNN.com. Afterwards, these participants were offered a treat– either a chocolate chip cookie or a granola bar. Those who had perused Facebook more often chose the cookie.
To put it plainly, Facebook has become a giant playground for adults. Users are inclined to both look at one another´s lives and toys with envy and become envied at the same time. This sort of behavior might be completely natural in smaller environments, such as offices and social clubs, but the sheer size of Facebook expands our social circles, amplifying this effect.
Each of these studies echoes a common sentiment and warning: Facebook is not real life, and treating it as such can be detrimental to our health.