According to two new studies, for some there is very little to “like” about Facebook.
German researchers from Humboldt University in Berlin and Technical University in Darmstadt have found that one in three Facebook users become ‘generally dissatisfied’ with their lives after visiting the social networking site. Most notable were feelings of jealousy brought on by happy images of friends or gleeful relationship statuses. Depression is a real possibility if too much time is spent on such sites.
Because Facebook is so oriented towards providing a constantly updating stream of content, the fact that a friend’s posting has more “likes” than another’s can trigger strong feelings of envy. This is not to mention the frequent appearances in one’s news feed of exciting updates, such as the birth of a child or a new puppy.
“Envy can proliferate in social networks and be intensified through passive tracking,” according to the researchers.
Out of the test group of 600 individuals, those who reported having the most depression after browsing the site tended to not participate in it as much, for example just reading posts but not clicking on them or interacting in any way.
People tend to report their happiness more often, and Facebook is no exception. Therefore readers of these posts are only seeing the happy exciting news, making them feel as if their lives pale in comparison. This gap is often false, but the feelings still very real.
Other studies have cited that Facebook users can also feel better connected to others. What isn’t clear is what exactly determines the type of experience an individual will have from browsing the site. Are social networks only for happy people to share their happiness? Or an inclusive way of staying connected? That question remains, but for some Facebook continues to be a miserable experience.