Facebook Envy: Feeling Dissatisfied with Your Life Compared to Others

By Amanda Ciccatelli January 22, 2013

Have you found yourself feeling sad, depressed, or angry lately? You may be a victim of Facebook envy, a very real social media malady that can be cured by cutting down your Facebook time. According to a recent study, it turns out that seeing your friends' vacations, love lives and work success on Facebook can cause envy and trigger feelings of misery.

With users sharing 30 billion pieces of content every month, Facebook represents the largest database of social information the world has ever witnessed. By sharing updates, users keep in touch and broaden their horizons, and as users learn more about each other, bonding and bridging social capital can be created. Although Facebook provides a platform for information to be shared, it also produces a basis for social comparison on a very high scale.

A joint study conducted by two German universities entitled "Envy on Facebook: A Hidden Threat to Users' Life Satisfaction?" released on Tuesday found that Facebook envy is a very real thing. In fact, as many as one out of three people actually feel worse and less satisfied with their lives after visiting Facebook, the world's largest social network that now has over one billion users.

"The spread and ubiquitous presence of envy on Social Networking Sites is shown to undermine users' life satisfaction,” the study stated.

Image via The Daily Balance

The findings were based on two studies involving 600 people. The first study looked at the scale, scope and nature of envy incidents triggered by Facebook and at how envy was linked to passive use of Facebook and life satisfaction.

"We were surprised by how many people have a negative experience from Facebook with envy leaving them feeling lonely, frustrated or angry," researcher Hanna Krasnova from the Institute of Information Systems at Berlin's Humboldt University told Reuters.

The researchers said that vacation photos were the number one cause of resentment, accounting for more than half of envy incidents. Social interaction was the second biggest cause of envy, as Facebook users compare the number of birthday greetings, likes and comments.

"Passive following triggers invidious emotions, with users mainly envying happiness of others, the way others spend their vacations and socialize," according to the study.

Additionally, the study found that people aged in their mid-30s were most likely to envy family happiness, while women were more likely to envy physical attractiveness. These feelings prompted users to brag more about their achievements on the site to portray themselves in a better light.

Also, men were shown to post more self-promotional content to let people know about their accomplishments, while women stressed their good looks and social lives.

The researchers concluded, "From a provider's perspective, our findings signal that users frequently perceive Facebook as a stressful environment, which may, in the long-run, endanger platform sustainability.”

Edited by Brooke Neuman

TechZone360 Web Editor

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