The Dangers of ‘Facebook Envy’

Facebook userBy Laura Christianson

I read an intriguing new study about Facebook this week.

Apparently, after we peruse our Facebook news feeds, we often feel envious of our Facebook friends who brag share about the wondrous places they’re visiting, the cool friends they’re hanging out with, or the amazing success of their latest (fill-in-the-blank).

When we look at other people’s updates, we think, “They have a better life than I do.” And we get jealous. Angry. Exhausted. Frustrated. Irritated.

These negative feelings can trigger depression, sleeplessness… even death. (Ok, I made that last line up. All those TV commercials for prescription drugs are rubbing off on me.)

The study does, however, conclude that Facebook creates a “stressful environment, which may, in the long-run, endanger platform sustainability.”

Let’s discuss this, friends. How do YOU feel after you’ve checked your Facebook News Feed?

Joyful… satisfied… informed?

Stressed out… lonely … envious?

Please leave a comment!

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(Thanks to PR Daily News Feed and Forbes for inspiration for this post.)

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  • Carrie Schmeck

    I don’t get envious so much as doubtful their lives are as grand as they post it to be. No one can sustain an eternally perky, awesome, totally wonderful life. (I suppose my comment could be taken as me being bitter. :-)) I think many inflate themselves with FB posts. I end up skipping over the repeat offenders.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AuthorCherylSt.John Cheryl St.John

    I agree with Carrie to a degree. Most people put the best of their lives in FB posts, which is still WAY better than those who cry about their horrible boyfriends/husbands/jobs/lives–I unfriend those people in a heartbeat. As a rule I enjoy reading my newsfeed and find a lot of interesting news, articles, etc. I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. but granted, my circle is largely fellow authors and readers, publishers – all intelligent and fascinating people, of course *g*.

  • Lia Blanchard

    What I feel lately is annoyed. It’s the political stuff. No matter the topic, or what “side” the poster is on, I am angry – yes, angry – that the majority of what is posted is wholly inaccurate and misrepresented, and yet widely distributed.

    Example: after the inauguration, I saw this particular “statistic” posted several times. “One million people attended the inauguration, but only 14 were missing work!” Each one was accompanied by a comment from the person sharing the stat. The comments that were actually on topic were all snide remarks about how the President is personally responsible for the unemployment rate, and how horrible it is that only 14 people out of a million were employed. If anyone pointed out the Monday was a holiday and most people had the day off, the conversation (if it can be called that) inevitably disintegrated into name calling.

    Being a media person myself, I get annoyed on many levels, beginning with the inaccuracy of the “statistic”. Of course some of those folks were unemployed, but it sure as heck was a lot fewer than 999,986! And where do people think that “stat” comes from – a poll conducted of every person on the streets of Washington DC that day?

    Having been on the internet since the early 90’s, I’ve developed a very good filter. On Facebook, for me, this means skimming over political comments and blocking people who post nothing else, whether or not I agree with their POVs. I would much rather hear wondrous places, cool friends, and amazing successes. :)

  • http://gratefultable.com/ Jennifer Cote

    I hadn’t thought of how it might make some folks feel sad… I suppose it could! But I feel informed. Still seems like a great way to stay in touch. What seems brag-ish to some is just of interest to others, right?

  • Annie Burrows

    I nearly always come away from my time on facebook with a smile on my face – but maybe that’s because my facebook friends post a lot of pictures of cute cats, and youtube clips of people falling over or into stuff,

  • Juli Monroe

    Seriously never thought of that. Near election time, I’m too often angry. The rest of the time I’m usually amused because I can depend on enough of my friends posting funny stuff to give me a good laugh. Maybe I’m just too content with my life?

  • http://bloggingbistro.com/ Laura Christianson

    I know what you mean about election time, Julie. I pretty much have to stop checking Facebook altogether during election season because everyone becomes so irrationally cheerleaderish about their candidate.

  • http://bloggingbistro.com/ Laura Christianson

    Cute cats will do the trick, Annie! I’ve heard that cute puppy and kitten pix are even more popular than cute baby pix (which tend to make people with unattractive babies jealous).

  • http://bloggingbistro.com/ Laura Christianson

    Jennifer – I guess how you approach Facebook depends on your point of view, and that is unique for each of us.

  • http://bloggingbistro.com/ Laura Christianson

    Lia – Everyone’s a journalist now, huh. As a fellow journalist, I feel your pain. Thank goodness for the “Block” and “Hide” functions. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • http://bloggingbistro.com/ Laura Christianson

    Oh, that is so true, Cheryl. Who wants to read downer stuff, and who in their right mind would share that publicly anyway? Intelligent and fascinating people are much more gratifying to follow. :-)

  • http://bloggingbistro.com/ Laura Christianson

    Carrie,

    Bitter…you? Naw. Never! I was meeting with a friend this morning and we discussed, “What would my Facebook friends say if I posted that I’m super depressed, feeling fatter than ever, and have no joy in life?” I suppose they wouldn’t like hearing that — even if it is our “Truth” of the moment — any better than they’d like the eternally perky wonderful life stuff.

  • Lara

    I only get frustrated when an author talks about how they got 8 gazillion words written after homeschooling 18 kids, cleaning, cooking for 10 and feeding the homeless. And then put a smiley face.
    In terms if personal friends comments, I like to hear about all the great things happening for them. That’s why I’m on Facebook.
    I think the ads, like this page stuff and all that is getting old. I want an actual post from a friend.
    As far as the political stuff, I hid the people who always posted those things. Best thing I ever did.

  • http://bloggingbistro.com/ Laura Christianson

    LOL, Lara! Yes, there seem to be an awful lot of supermoms out there on Facebook. I always wonder how they have time to do all that and be on Facebook constantly, as well.

    In terms of ads, I doubt we’ll be seeing less of that anytime soon. Or anytime at all. Facebook is morphing quickly into an advertising platform as opposed to a social network.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dennis.george.737 Dennis George

    I find it a little like those wonderful Christmas Letters some people pen to send with the card. All the good and positive stuff, with all the bad and negative somehow missing! NO ONE’S life is like that. (The cat barfed on the bed, about that pesky toenail fungus…, I LOVE all this free time since I got fired, etc.)

  • http://bloggingbistro.com/ Laura Christianson

    So true, Dennis. I haven’t sent a Christmas letter for 3 or 4 years because I figure my life is just too mundane to waste that much postage on.

  • Nitya

    We’re discussing Facebook envy tomorrow on HuffPost Live 3pm ET. Love to hear from anyone who feels frustrated or in facts posts only the good news to join the panel. Most of our guests join us live via webcam so please email me today nitya.rajan@huffingtonpost.com