Face­book envy ill­ness

Townsville Bulletin - - Life: Relationships -

DOES look­ing at Face­book leave you feel­ing alone, de­pressed and woe­fully lack­ing i n op­por­tu­ni­ties t o post videos of your kit­ten drink­ing from the toi­let?

Do you feel like no one likes you, let alone ‘‘ likes’’ you?

Do you suspect you might do bod­ily harm to the next ‘‘ friend’’ who feels com­pelled to tell you and his 900 other close pals how high his kid scored on their lat­est exam?

T h e n y o u mi g h t h a v e Face­book envy.

Since Jan­uary, when the US jour­nal Per­son­al­ity and So­cial Psy­chi­a­try Bul­letin pub­lished a pa­per about our per­cep­tions of other peo­ple’s con­tent­ment lev­els, it’s the mal­ady of the mo­ment – or at least the per­fect catch­phrase for de­scrib­ing the less-than-friendly feel­ings we har­bour to­ward cer­tain on­line ac­quain­tances.

Draw­ing o n s t udi e s o f Stan­ford stu­dents and their as­sump­tions about the rel­a­tive hap­pi­ness or un­hap­pines s o f t hei r p e e r s , r e - searchers found that hu­mans con­sis­tently over­es­ti­mate how much fun oth­ers are hav­ing and un­der­es­ti­mate their un­hap­pi­ness.

The study had noth­ing to do with Face­book, but it quickly be­came associated with the coinage ‘‘ Face­book envy’’, largely be­cause the lead re­searcher, then a doc­toral s t u d e n t i n p s y c h o l o g y , re­port­edly got the idea from watch­ing his friends’ in­ter­ac­tions with the so­cial net­work. The more time they spent click­ing through joy­ful an­nounce­ments and pho­tos de­pict­ing happy events, the worse they felt about their own lives.

It’s not hard to see how Face­book might chip away at a p e r s o n ’ s s e l f - e s t e e m . Though cel­e­brated – breath- lessly revered, in fact – as a way to bring peo­ple to­gether, any­one who’s poked around the site for more than 10 min­utes knows it’s also the ultimate per­for­mance space. Like hol­i­day news­let­ters in which fam­i­lies pay un­sub­tle homage to their own achieve­ments – ‘‘ Dakota won 57 t a e k w o n d o t r o p h i e s ! ’ ’ , ‘ ‘ S o p h i e t o o k w e e k e n d cour­ses in cheese mak­ing!’’, ‘‘ Bob passed an im­pres­sive kid­ney stone!’’ – Face­book re­minds us that there can be a fine line be­tween shar­ing and gloat­ing. Sure, some of us man­age to leave our egos out of it, lim­it­ing our posts to YouTube videos of dogs rid­ing skate­boards or birth­day wishes to friends whose birthdays we’d be to­tally un­aware of if Face­book didn’t au­to­mat­i­cally re­mind us.

Most of us, though, are just hun­gry for ad­mi­ra­tion. We post videos from fam­ily out­ings in the hope that peo­ple will no­tice what a func­tional, lov­ing and at­trac­tive clan we are.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.