Facebook is all about connecting with others, and that’s
generally one of the best stress-busters around. But like anything else,
Facebook has its downside. There are times when it may be more hindrance than
help, emotionally speaking. Here are four stressful mistakes to avoid.
The problem, they found, is that different groups of online
friends may have very different reactions to photos of partying or status
updates laced with expletives. Not surprisingly, becoming Facebook friends with
parents or employers led to the greatest anxiety for these young adults.
That doesn’t mean you have to unfriend Mom, Dad, and the
boss. A better solution is to use Facebook’s privacy settings to manage which
friends see which photos and updates. Yet only one-third of those in the survey
had taken that simple step.
If you’re insecure in face-to-face social situations, online
social networking can be a great alternative. Just don’t bombard others with
too many negative details about your life.
In a study
published in Psychological Science,
researchers from the University of Waterloo in Canada asked college students to
share their last 10 status updates from Facebook. The updates were then rated
for how positive or negative they were, and a stranger also rated how likable
the person who wrote them seemed to be. Students with low self-esteem tended to
post more negative updates, and that made them come across as less likable.
The same principle applies online as in offline
interactions: Occasional venting is fine, but constant negativity puts other people
A study from
Utah Valley University found that longtime Facebook users were more likely
to believe that life is unfair, compared to newer users. Those who spent a lot
of time on Facebook were also more likely to believe that others had happier,
better lives than they did.
When you’re feeling good about yourself and the world, you
probably recognize that the face people present on Facebook is intentionally selective,
skewed toward flattering photos and upbeat news. But when you’re down, it’s
harder to keep things in perspective. You might start to believe that other
people’s lives are really perfect—and wonder why yours isn’t, too.
Potentially, this might worsen depressed feelings, if
you’re already predisposed that way. As a rule of thumb, if logging in to
Facebook makes you miserable, don’t do it.
Don’t obsess over an
ex’s Facebook page.
Constantly checking up on an ex through Facebook makes it
harder to get over a breakup, according to a study in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social
Networking. The study’s
author from Brunel University in England surveyed more than 400 Facebook users with a
former romantic partner who was also on the site.
Frequently checking an ex’s Facebook page was associated
with greater distress over the breakup, more longing for the ex, and less
personal growth. Even when offline contact was taken into account, online monitoring
of the ex’s activities and friends still seemed to interfere with emotional
Staying Facebook friends with an ex works for some people.
But if you find yourself obsessing over an ex’s Facebook page, hit “unfriend”
and move on.