As if diminishing real-life communication is not pressing enough for us to reevaluate our online lives, two new studies sponsored by two German universities have revealed that Facebook is a potential source of envy.
German researchers from Berlin’s Humboldt University and Darmstadt’s Technical University said that the world’s largest social network is now becoming a stressor for people to compare their lives with that of others’.
They found that one of three people on Facebook felt discontented with their lives after seeing updates from their friends, ranging from holiday photos, new career-advancing opportunities and job promotions, interesting love lives, and involvement in various social events to announcements of fancy purchases – cars, gadgets, a new house, and so on.
Vacation-related posts heavily rouse the downright unhealthy social comparison people find themselves in after using Facebook.
Facebook users who browse the site without updating their own profiles get affected the most when they see these updates.
The quality of social interaction now depends on how interactive and responsive you and your friends are on the things you post, and this reciprocity will influence how others will perceive your life online.
Thus an increasing number of Facebook users get pressured to meet and exceed (if possible) the standards of happiness and life satisfaction they have seen from what others post online.
Whenever these users do not feel they have done so, they feel worse about themselves and their lives as a whole.
The study further revealed that people tend to gauge their place on the social ladder by comparing their number of likes and comments to the numbers their friends get.
Passive subscription on friends’ postings and uploads elicit distinct reactions of coping up from both sexes.
Women are most likely to highlight their physical attractiveness and active social lives.
Men are most likely to post and advertise their accomplishments.
The results of these studies, which involved surveying and observing 600 respondents, will be presented at an information systems conference in Germany come February 2013.
According to researcher Hanna Krasnova, they have observed that the negative emotions people get from reading envy-inciting Facebook updates prompted the affected users to either leave or lessen the time spent on the site.
They expect their findings to impact people’s overall usage of and behavior on Facebook.
They believe that the results will potentially shake the sustainability of Facebook as a highly interactive social network.
More importantly, Facebook’s public image will be greatly affected as more of its users will reassess their membership on the site.