By now, we’re all familiar with the concept of using other people’s Facebook updates to gauge exactly what we’ve accomplished with our own lives — assuming we’ve accomplished anything at all.
It seems natural that the posted pictures of engagement rings, new babies and lavish vacations inspire envy among people within our social networks. However, according to researchers at the University of Missouri, those feelings of envy can actually foster a debilitating feeling of depression. The researchers set out to find just how emotionally involved Facebook users are in the site. It turns out that they’re pretty damn emotionally invested.
Professor Margaret Duffy concedes that the effects of the site depend upon how users use it.
“Facebook can be a fun and healthy activity if users take advantage of the site to stay connected with family and old friends and to share interesting and important aspects of their lives,” Professor Duffy told The Telegraph. “However, if Facebook is used to see how well an acquaintance is doing financially or how happy an old friend is in his relationship – things that cause envy among users – use of the site can lead to feelings of depression.”
I’m gonna go ahead and interpret Professor Duffy’s use of “old friend” to mean “ex-boyfriend” or whoever was my high school’s Regina George.
In the study that Professor Duffy co-authored, 700 “young” Facebook users were surveyed and those who use the site for “surveillance” purposes also reported experiencing depression. The users who used the site for more positive reasons did not experience feelings of depression. The findings were published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.
This study also piggybacks a University of Texas study that connects binge watching TV shows, often via streaming services, with loneliness and depression. So, apparently, everything we enjoy is a link to severe depression and the road to mental health begins with chucking your laptop into the ocean.