Study: Passively Observing Others in Facebook Causes Depression

Study: Passively Observing Others in Facebook Causes Depression

New research shows that your community of friends on Facebook could be affecting your psychology and mental well being, and leave you feeling socially excluded and emotionally drained.

One study, published in the journal Social Science Computer Review and conducted by the University of Buffalo, showed that prominent social media sites promote content, and users are more receptive and vulnerable to the negative aspects of these posts in a way that is more damaging that advertising messages.

But none of it is intentional, the researchers found.

That’s because the nature of social media  sites is to encourage information sharing but the unintended consequences of sayphotos of a girls’ night or other social outings leaves people seeing friends have fun without them feeling socially isolated and excluded.

“These findings are not only significant because we are talking about individuals’ emotions here, but it also raises questions about how exposure to these interactions affect one’s day-to-day functioning,” says lead author Jessica Covert, a graduate student in the school’s Department of Communication, in a release. “Offline research suggests that social exclusion evokes various physical and psychological consequences such as reduced complex cognitive thought.”

Passive Facebook users were recently found to be more susceptible to becoming depressed.

Another study published this Summer found that constantly seeing peers and friends in especially glamorous and happy settings may cause low self-esteem and depression among those who do not actively post on that social media platform, yet they still  log on regularly to check in on friends.

According to researchers at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) in Germany, passive Facebook users who tend to compare themselves to others end up feeling like everyone is better than them, which can subsequently lead to feelings of depression.

It appears the take away is for all to remember that people only share their highlight reels and rarely their low points.

“It is important that this impression that everyone else is better off can be an absolute fallacy,”  says lead psychologist in the German study,  Dr. Phillip Ozimek. “In fact, very few people post on social media about negative experiences. However, the fact that we are flooded with these positive experiences on the Internet gives us a completely different impression.”

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