Facebook Selfies Hurt Relationships
August 12, 2013

Why Facebook ‘Selfies’ Can Ruin Your Relationships

Michael Harper for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Researchers from the University of Birmingham, University West of England and the University of Edinburgh have found that people who post too many pictures of themselves on Facebook - known as 'selfies' in the online community - risk harming their relationships with their friends.

Researchers reported that those who share too many pictures could risk harming their more casual Facebook relationships, while relationships with close friends and family members, on the other hand, may not be harmed at all by this over-sharing. According to Dr. David Houghton, a lecturer at Birmingham Business School and the lead researcher in this study, the content and quantity of these pictures can be blamed for causing a rift between the individual posting the photos and their casual relationships with acquaintances and colleagues.

“Our research found that those who frequently post photographs on Facebook risk damaging real-life relationships. This is because people, other than very close friends and relatives, don’t seem to relate well to those who constantly share photos of themselves,” said Houghton in a statement.

“It’s worth remembering that the information we post to our ‘friends’ on Facebook, actually gets viewed by lots of different categories of people: partners; friends; family; colleagues and acquaintances; and each group seems to take a different view of the information shared.”

The study measures the effect of a common behavior decades ago that’s been brought into the digital age. Before humans built the technology to instantly share photographs via Facebook, Instagram and other services, people had to share physical, printed media with their friends and family. Thus the old joke about the loathed family which invites friends over to view slides of their latest vacation. Just as these kinds of exhibitions could have turned off friends and acquaintances, so too can sharing too many selfies on Facebook damage real-world relationships.

According to the study, there was a direct correlation between sharing multiple pictures of events and a decrease in intimacy between the sharer and their friends. Additionally, those who frequently shared photographs of their friends also run the risk of harming the relationships they have with these friends.

However, the study also notes that over-sharers who post pictures of family are more likely to receive support from their close friends and family members. Those who post more pictures of their friends, however, may ruin the intimacy they enjoy with these friends. Close friends and family members, however, are unaffected by the amount of pictures posted.

Dr. Houghton and team also looked beyond the effects of posting too many pictures on Facebook to brand advertising campaigns in which companies ask customers to take pictures of themselves enjoying their product.

“While benefitting brand awareness and critical mass of a Facebook fan page for a brand, organization or cause, sharing photographs may be harmful to those asked to participate,” reads the report. The researchers advise users to “think twice and post once” when sharing pictures of themselves.

As Facebook has grown to include over one billion users, many academic researchers have endeavored to classify and understand the human effects of being virtually connected. Earlier this year, a pair of German researchers claimed that viewing pictures of friends’ vacations, new babies, cars and homes can leave users feeling frustrated about their own lives and envious of others.