German Study Reveals the True Impact of Facebook

Ian HancockGeneral, Social Media

A recent study carried out by two universities in Germany has revealed what is already obvious to most; going on Facebook is depressing and makes you angry. OK, not quite but the study has produced some interesting, if not worrying, results. It basically concluded that a visit to Facebook can leave you feeling down and depressed, which isn’t what Zuckerberg had in mind back at Harvard.

'She's done so much better than me, and she's travelled a lot.'

According to the research, which involved 600 Facebook users, one in three people feel worse after a visit to the social network. ‘Worse’ can be defined as envious, angry, miserable and lonely. This doesn’t come as a surprise as people are very selective about what they post on FB and what they miss out. You don’t see many posts saying “alone again, drunk, on a Saturday night doing a jigsaw having consumed a litre of ice cream. Lol.

The main cause of people responding negatively to a visit to Facebook is looking at other peoples holiday photos. This is most likely because they show other people having fun with their partners on an expensive holiday. In fact over half of all ‘envy incidents’ on Facebook are caused by holiday snaps.

Other causes of this social media misery are having low social interaction levels i.e. other users don’t talk to you or react to your posts. Those who don’t post much on the site but still look around a lot are apparently worse off. This is described as “passive following” by the researchers and causes envy/misery because theses passive followers are exposed to the happiness/social success of others, which is something they don’t experience.

The study found that people in their mid-30’s are most likely to become envious of other peoples family life and happiness. Its doest come as a surprise to see that physical attractiveness is another major cause of envy, especially for female Facebook users.

Some people are so affected by what they see on Facebook that they leave the site or visit it much less. This is more evidence to support the claims that the site has finally reached saturation point. Others respond to their Facebook envy by boasting about their own achievements (you know who you are) or by over-exaggerating them (some would call it lying). I personally think that the presence of Facebook has led to people being more concerned about the appearance and memory of an event, than they are about actually enjoying themselves. This means taking more pictures and making live updates such as a picture of your drink, captioned with “Out with the guurrrlls, first of many” when in actual fact, you are sat in the pub in silence because everyone is on their phone. According to the study, men are most likely to post self-promotional content and women are keen to stress their looks and social lives.

It can be said that a lot of this behaviour is also true of ‘real life’. When you bump into somebody you know, you don’t tell them how bad your life is, you tell them how great it is and all the good things that have been happening. Facebook might be depressing for some now, but imagine how depressing it would be if it was overrun with posts about ugliness, loneliness and  destitution? No thanks.

Is Facebook making you miserable? If so, maybe you should leave the site for a bit and see if you really need your profile that much. There was actually a time before Facebook, when people had less than 1000 friends, and they actually communicated face to face. Who knew?