We’ve heard about ‘Facebook Depression’ – a risk factor that can affect teens who spend too much time on the social network and subsequently feel unaccepted by their peers online, but now there’s another term that’s cropping up that may be affecting you without you even realizing it. It’s called ‘Facebook Envy.’
According to a new study entitled “Envy on Facebook: A Threat to Users’ Life Satisfaction?” by researchers in Germany, ‘Facebook Envy’ is another affliction that can be caused by constant exposure to the numerous status updates about grand vacations, stellar jobs and perfect children. We all have people in our Facebook circles who post about their seemingly perfect lives, right?
More than a third of survey respondents reported feeling negative feelings and frustrated after using Facebook. The researchers presume that constant comparison that people tend to do when scrolling through all these status updates can lead to feelings of envy and dissatisfaction with their own lives.
Of the 357 respondents, ‘envy and comparison’ ranked the highest as the negative emotion, followed by lack of attention (lack of likes, comments) and then feelings of loneliness and social isolation. Interestingly, travel and leisure (those countless vacation pictures by the pool and beach) accounted for the highest cause of envy triggered on Facebook.
In terms of envy, the pattern that can emerge is what these researchers refer to as an ‘Envy Spiral,’ i.e. when someone reads a Facebook update that he/she is envious of, then takes it a step further and embellishes his/her own update to perhaps make others envious. Someone else reads this update and wants to do the same, thus the downward spiral into embellished status updates, vacations that really aren’t that amazing and kids that are far from perfect.
In the study, researchers state, “envy feelings can cause significant damage to users’ well-being and impact their life satisfaction. Indeed, past research from social psychology reveals that envy may lead to frustration, mental suffering and even depression.” There’s that Facebook depression again.
Researchers suggest that users who are prone to feelings of envy limit their use of social networking sites. But is that really necessary? Do you recognize that a lot of the status updates that people post are indeed embellishments? Please enter your comments below.
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