Too much Facebook browsing can actually affect your emotional well-being — and not in a good way.
A recent study by the University of Copenhagen in Denmark suggests people who spend too much time “lurking” on the social media without actively engaging with others are prone to feel miserable and dejected.
Instead of feeling connected to others, which is what Facebook is all about, scrolling through a friend’s perfect holiday pictures and reading status updates about how everyone is doing so well can eventually make one compare their life with others.
This leads to envy and, as the study authors put it, “unrealistic social comparisons.”
The study, published in the journal Cyber Psychology, Behavior and Social Networking, analyzed 1,095 participants (mostly women) over the course of a week. The researchers randomly divided the participants into two groups: One continued using Facebook as usual while the other stopped using it for a week.
At the end of the week, the study’s author Morten Tromholt found out those who continued to use social media reported low levels of life satisfaction. Comparatively, the group that had signed off reported an increase in "life satisfaction" and positive emotions.
“These findings indicate that it might not be necessary to quit Facebook for good to increase one's well-being. Instead an adjustment of one's behavior on Facebook could potentially cause a change,” wrote Tromholt. “To make things clear, if one is a heavy Facebook user, one should use Facebook less to increase one's well-being. And if one tends to feel envy when on Facebook, one should avoid browsing the sections — or specific friends — on Facebook causing this envy. And if one uses Facebook passively, one should reduce this kind of behavior.”
You just need to take a little break from Facebook. Instead of spending the holiday in gloom by comparing your Christmas preparations to someone else on you newsfeed, log off for a while and enjoy the festivities.
“Due to habits, practicalities … it may be difficult to change one’s way of using Facebook,”Tromholt added.
If that’s not possible, it might be helpful to at least stop browsing specific sections of Facebook that might make you feel envious.
Previous research studies also came to similar conclusions.
Thumbnail Credits: Reuters