Feeling down about your life? One quick way to cheer yourself up may be to delete your Facebook account. Recent research indicates that the more people use the hugely popular social networking website, the more they will believe that others are much happier.
The study conducted by Utah Valley University, United States, found that the carefully chosen pictures of smiling, cheerful faces which Facebook users tend to paste over their pages cumulatively convey a debilitating message to others. Hui-Tzu Grace Chou and Nicholas Edge, both sociologists, interviewed 425 undergraduate students about their happiness and that of their friends. Participants were asked how much they agreed or disagreed with statements such as “Life is fair” and “Many of my friends have a better life than me.”
They then described their Facebook activity including their number of “friends” and the proportion whom they actually knew.
Ninety-five per cent used Facebook and on average they had been there for two and a half years and spent nearly five hours a week on it.
After allowing gender, religiosity and whether people were single or attached, the study found that “the more hours people spent on Facebook, the stronger was their agreement that others were happier.”
This was particularly true of Facebook users who stockpiled “friends” they did not actually know. Those who had used Facebook for longer were also “significantly” likely to agree with the statement that “life is unfair.”
Conversely, the study – published in the journal, Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking – found that people who spent more time socialising with friends in the flesh were less likely to feel they had been handed life’s short straw.
Chou says, “Looking at happy pictures of others on Facebook gives people an impression that others are ‘always’ happy and having good lives.”