Facebook causes envy and frustration

Thu 24 January 2013 13:10, Tamara Yadvichuk

Facebook causes envy and frustration

Facebook news feed provides its users with a wealth of information about personal and social lives of their friends. A recent report by German researches suggests that, while helping users stay in contact, observing friends’ successes on social media often causes feelings of loneliness, envy and frustration.

The report with a disturbing title ‘Envy on Facebook: A Hidden Threat to Users’ Life Satisfaction?’ released last week explains that Facebook provides its users with an opportunity to compare their lives with those of their friends and acquaintances. As a result, many users feel envious of their friends’ social and professional successes, good looks, holiday trips, and so on. In fact, the researchers found that one in every three Facebook users leaves the site feeling less satisfied with their own life than before visiting the site.

According to the study, ‘passive followers’ who visit Facebook without contributing content of their own (e.g. posting pictures, status updates, sharing their activities) are more likely to be affected by negative feelings of envy, frustration, guilt, loneliness or sadness.

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Seeing friends’ holiday photos on Facebook was determined to be the number one cause of envy. The second biggest trigger of this unpleasant sensation is, amazingly, observing friends’ successes in social interaction: many likes and comments on their posts and pictures, many birthday greetings, relationship statuses, etc. The study also found that people in their mid-30s tend to envy their friends’ happy family lives, and women are likely to be jealous of others’ physical attractiveness.

If you are in the snowy Netherlands, it is 6 degrees below zero outside, and you find yourself dreaming about a sunny day on the beach, you might want to stay away from your friend’s Facebook photos of his ongoing trip to Australia. Just to save yourself from unnecessary frustration :) Or you can make sure you will not become a ‘passive follower’ and beat your friends’ sunny vacation photos by posting photos of yourself skiing and making snowmen!

This research may have important implications for marketers. Since looking at friends’ photos and social interactions has a strong emotional effect on many Facebook users, it could be a good opportunity for companies to present them with things like inexpensive vacation deals, gym subscriptions, beauty accessories, tips on how to be more social and other life-enhancement tools.

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