Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Facebook and Envy

A lot has been written about Facebook—the most popular social networking site in the world (currently, that is). There is also some research that has been published on the nature of status updates posted on Facebook, and how they affect people. Although I haven’t read the original research articles myself (I know of these studies from newspaper and magazine reports only), there seems to be some finding with respect to status updates making people more envious and depressed, especially among teens. This supposedly happens because Facebook gives an impression that your friends are having a perfect life.

I can imagine how Facebook can skew the perception of our world. Most of us share positive incidents from our life on Facebook. So, if a person is spending a lot of time on Facebook, s/he may come to believe that everyone else but him/her is having a great time in life. The tendency of few individuals to post photoshopped images of themselves can further give the impression that others are perfect.

I don’t mean to give the impression that Facebook causes envy and depression, although that’s what many popular press articles tend to allude to. Facebook is merely a platform on which social comparisons are made possible. Social comparisons happen in real life as well. However, it’s definitely possible that Facebook is a platform that skews social comparisons in one particular direction. On Facebook, we typically don’t get to find out about the struggles of others or about their humdrum existence. Only thing that we get to know about is typically the positive side: how wonderful somebody’s vacation was, how amazing somebody’s spouse is, and so on so forth.

To be continued ...

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