The Negative Effects Of Facebook Comparison
Do you sometimes find yourself drifting over to Facebook when you’re feeling a bit down …only to feel worse after??
In my last blog on self-love I wrote about comparison…I requested that you:
“Don’t compare yourself to anyone else… at any time… ever… got that? ……Don’t get into the habit of comparing yourself to feed your negative thoughts on a bad day… Everyone has bad days, it’s part of life. Don’t believe all the amazing things people are doing posted on Facebook – it’s not the full picture!”
Well… science is now backing that belief !
Research is being done into the effect Facebook has on our general self-esteem and our happiness.
I looked at 2 research results; A one week study by The Happiness Research Institute in Denmark and a two week study by The University of Houston, USA in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. Although these studies were short, they do show surprising results.
Human Habits Of Facebook Comparison:
As social beings we are bound to be influenced by others and that’s when we start to compare. Humans have an unfortunate tendency to focus on what other people have and not focusing on what we actually need..
As people tend to share on Facebook mainly significant occasions (if you flip past the food and cat photos!) such as holidays, births, career successes and parties, we get a distorted view of other’s lives. It’s these false beliefs that link Facebook time and depressive symptoms together.
Interestingly this social comparison goes in either direction –it doesn’t matter whether a person makes an upward or downward social comparison – they are both linked to a greater likelihood for depressive symptoms.
The Facebook Comparison Tests:
The research held at The Happiness Research Institute took 1,095 Facebook users , 95% of which said they used Facebook daily, and split them into 2 groups.
One group was permitted to use Facebook as usual while the other weren’t to access it all.
After just one week, 88% of those who had quit Facebook said they felt “happy”, compared to 81% of those who continued using the social network. They felt more enthusiastic, less lonely, less worried, more decisive and found it easier to concentrate.
As a bonus they also stated that the time they had not been on the site had allowed them to spend more time with friends and family- in REAL life. Rather an obvious result I feel!
Generally they were enjoying life more!
Here Are Some Other Interesting Facebook Comparison Findings:
- People on Facebook are 55% more likely to feel stressed.
- People taking a break from Facebook are 18% more likely to feel present in the moment.
- 5 out of 10 envy the amazing experiences of others posted on Facebook.
- 1 out of 3 envy how happy other people seem on Facebook.
- 4 out of 10 envy the apparent success of others on Facebook.
The Effect Of This Facebook Comparison?
People on Facebook are 39% more likely to feel less happy than their friends.
Through these experiments, researchers were able to identify a link, even if not a casual relationship, between happiness and Facebook; people feel depressed after spending a great deal of time on Facebook because they feel bad when comparing themselves to others.
But surely this makes sense? I’m sure we’d be more content with our lives and achievements if we didn’t fill our minds with the ‘victories’ of others. I think it will be interesting to see further research into this area, especially on the effect on the younger generation.
I think it’s our choice; we can cut down on Facebook use and see what difference it makes to our moods or maybe we could just adjust our attitude toward it and take everything with a pinch of salt….
“Social media.…A constant flow of edited lives which distorts our perception of reality”.
The happiness research institute
Further reading is available here: