Having a thousand friends may seem like a dream come true, but a new study shows that the more friends you have on Facebook, the more likely you are to feel stressed out. Dr. Kathy Charles of the Edinburgh Napier University in the U.K. interviewed and surveyed 200 students, asking them questions about Facebook and how they use it in their daily lives. The conclusion: the negative effects of Facebook may actually outweigh its benefits.
“Our data also suggests that there is a significant minority of users who experience considerable Facebook-related anxiety, with only very modest or tenuous rewards,” said Dr. Kathy Charles. “And we found it was actually those with the most contacts, those who had invested the most time in the site, who were the ones most likely to be stressed.”
Survey of attitudes toward Facebook:
- 12 percent of respondents said that Facebook made them feel anxious
- 63 percent delayed replying to friend requests
- 32 percent said rejecting friend requests led to feelings of guilt and discomfort
- 10 percent admitted disliking receiving friend requests
As the results imply above, a vast majority of people seem to be on Facebook only because of the social pressure to keep up and not miss out on social events or offend people. They like keeping in touch, but the pressure to be “inventive and entertaining,” speak appropriately to different types of friends, and accept people as friends they may not actually want is somewhat stressful. Some even experience stress due to envy of the happy-looking lives of friends on Facebook.
“Like gambling, Facebook keeps users in a neurotic limbo, not knowing whether they should hang on in there just in case they miss out on something good,” said Dr. Charles.
It should be noted that this study has a very small (200) survey group. 72.6 percent of participants were female and 27.4 percent were male. The average age was 30.4. The results can hardly be called scientific proof of anything, but they are an interesting glimpse at the underlying social structures that keep Facebook growing so quickly. Like a drug, people join Facebook out of peer pressure and often can’t stop using it later even after it’s no longer fun anymore. Some have even called Facebook more addictive than sex.
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