According to a recent study conduced by two German universities, Facebook causes envy and triggers feelings of misery and loneliness. Researchers discovered that one in three people felt worse after spending time on Facebook. They also felt more dissatisfied with their lives. Those who spend time browsing, but not posting, were the most affected.
Facebook is a negative experience for 30% of users.
According to the study, one-third of those who spend time on Facebook say they leave the site feeling lonely, frustrated, and angry.
The study found that vacation photos cause the most resentment, with more than half the envy caused by holiday photos.
Thirty-year-olds were most likely to envy family happiness while women envy physical attractiveness.
The amount of social interaction is also a cause of envy, with users comparing the number of birthday greetings, “likes” and comments they receive to the volume their friends receive.
The study also found that Facebook envy prompts people to boast about their achievements on the social network to make themselves look more attractive and successful.
These findings were based on two studies involving 600 people. While the research was conducted in Germany, researchers expect the findings to apply internationally considering envy is a universal feeling.
I am not surprised by these findings.
In fact, this is one of the reasons I chose to opt-out of Facebook last year. I grew frustrated with all the “look at me” posts and self-promotion, and quite frankly I questioned the authenticity of a lot of what I saw. I also questioned what value it was adding to my life.
Six weeks after leaving Facebook I can honestly say I do not miss it at all.
I admit the first few weeks I did feel like I was missing out on something. Like everyone was at a party that I was not invited to. Until I realized that most of the people at the party were not people I even knew. And many were not people I would choose to hang out with in the real world. Not that they were bad people, just people with different interests and values from my own. Yes, I suppose I miss keeping up with the lives of a handful of friends, but I know if I really want to know what’s going on in their lives, I can give them a call or shoot them an email. And frankly, those are both more personal forms of communication than Facebook will ever be. And to be honest, I never felt like I was missing anything before Facebook. In many ways Facebook has introduced a level of voyeurism and sharing that we have become accustomed to, but that I’m not sure is healthy.
I also realize how much time I was wasting.
Going on Facebook had become a habit. I’d check first thing in the morning, and periodically throughout the day, just to see what people were posting. Other times, when I was bored or didn’t feel like working on what I was working on, it was easy to escape to Facebook to see what others were up to. I don’t think I realized how much time I spent browsing Facebook—time that I could have been spending more productively, or even just enjoying my life instead of seeing what others were doing with theirs (or at least reporting that they were doing).
Because I used Facebook to help promote my blog, one of my fears was that my blog traffic would diminish significantly after leaving Facebook. That has not happened. In fact, I was surprised to find that my blog traffic has increased since leaving Facebook!
While I still receive some blog traffic from the social network, Facebook traffic represents the smallest percentage of new visitors and has the highest bounce rate (at least among the top 10 traffic sources). I’ll be curious to continue tracking this going forward.
While I haven’t ruled out the possibility of returning to Facebook for business, at least for now I see no reason to go back. And studies like this, combined with my own results, continue to validate my decision to remove Facebook from my life.
Are you on Facebook? Is it adding value to your life or business? Or, is it a cause of envy, frustration, and anger? I’d love to hear your perspective. Please post a comment and share.