We all have that overactive Facebook friend who just cannot stop it with the status updates, whether it’s in the form of a photo of their latest kitchen experiment, a detailed account of their date with a significant other, or their penchant for liking every single thing you have ever posted, regardless of topic or relevance. The fact that your feed is still plagued by this noise definitely contributes to the site’s information algorithm problem and your dwindling peace of mind, but there are other issues that could have an even bigger effect, not just online: Recent research claims that users who are trigger-happy with the photo upload and share buttons on the site and use them a little too regularly not only cause their friends to ignore their posts, but risk losing them altogether.
It’s not just the act of posting photos on Facebook that inadvertently alienates your contacts – according to the study performed by University of Birmingham, the University of the West of England, the University of Edinburgh, and Heriot-Watt University, the amount of photos you upload and the subject or theme of the photo albums you share have a direct impact on the relationships you have with your contacts on the social network. To test this theory, the proponents evaluated their test subjects through a two-part analysis. The first part involved asking over 30 Facebook users with a wide range of ages to identify the type of photos shared on their Facebook, which enabled the researchers to determine that photos typically shared on the social network can be classified under the following categories: self, friend, event, family, scene, object, and animal.
The second part involved five control groups with different relationship types: Relative, partner, close friend, colleague, and general Facebook friend. Over 500 Facebook users were assigned their control group and asked to rate the quality of their relationships with a friend they can associate with their assigned relationship type, with the ratings based on the amount of support and intimacy they share. “It’s worth remembering that the information we post to our ‘friends’ on Facebook, actually gets viewed by lots of different categories of people: Partners; friends; family; colleagues and acquaintances; and each group seems to take a different view of the information shared,” lead researcher and author Dr. David Houghton said, according to a report on the study. “Our research found that those who frequently post photographs on Facebook risk damaging real-life relationships. This is because people, other than very close friends and relatives, don’t seem to relate well to those who constantly share photos of themselves.”
In a nutshell, here’s what the study found based on both levels of support and intimacy:
- Older users, across all relationship types, care less about your photos than your younger friends do. This is true, no matter how frequently you post photos on the social network.
- Female pals tend to care more for your picture posts than your male friends do.
- General acquaintances, despite being filed under the Facebook category that effectively minimizes their appearance on your News Feed, care more for you than your colleagues do. This makes sense – you really shouldn’t mix your personal with your professional life, anyway (unless you work with your bestie – that’s the only exception).
- The only people who get a kick out of your selfies and your family photos are your partners, relatives, and closest friends. Even then, too many selfies ultimately bum people out, whatever their relationship is to you.
- Apparently, over-sharing photos can spark jealousy: Close friends and partners who post photos of their other friends experience lower levels of intimacy.
What does this all mean? To avoid unwarranted unfriending, consider utilizing Facebook’s friend list feature, like, right now. That way, the next time you post an album of vacation photos, you know to limit access to your significant other, your next of kin, and your inner circle of friends (you know, those friends who can write your biography for you).
Next, be sensitive to your Facebook friends – don’t torture your close friends with too many photos of you and your other friends. Spare them the agony of seeing your canoodling with your beau every frickin’ weekend and keep that for your private enjoyment. If you really have to, limit your post to one picture. Having said that, if the photos you are about to share are meant for people like the person you are living with or the pals you hang out with on a regular basis, opt to show them the photos in person versus uploading them online. There’s nothing worse than this scenario:
You: Hey, did you see that photo/link I shared on my Timeline?
Significant Other: No. Why don’t you just show me/tell me about it now?
Y: But… I already shared it! Just check it out on Facebook.
S.O.: Ugh… do I have to?
Oh, and for the love of social media and all your friends online, spare us from too many selfies – save them for Sundays.