Why Facebook Makes You Feel Bad About Yourself

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No surprise — those Facebook photos of your friends on vacation or celebrating a birthday party can make you feel lousy.

Facebook is supposed to envelope us in the warm embrace of our social network, and scanning friends’ pages is supposed to make us feel loved, supported and important (at least in the lives of those we like). But skimming through photos of friends’ life successes can trigger feelings of envy, misery and loneliness as well, according to researchers from two German universities. The scientists studied 600 people who logged time on the social network and discovered that one in three felt worse after visiting the site—especially if they viewed vacation photos. Facebook frequenters who spent time on the site without posting their own content were also more likely to feel dissatisfied.

(MORE: Why You’re More Likely to Remember A Facebook Status Than a Face)

“We were surprised by how many people have a negative experience from Facebook with envy leaving them feeling lonely, frustrated or angry,” study author Hanna Krasnova from the Institute of Information Systems at Berlin’s Humboldt University told Reuters. “From our observations some of these people will then leave Facebook or at least reduce their use of the site.”

The most common cause of Facebook frustration came from users comparing themselves socially to their peers, while the second most common source of dissatisfaction was “lack of attention” from having fewer comments, likes and general feedback compared to friends.

The study authors note that both men and women feel pressure to portray themselves in the best light to their Facebook friends, but men are more likely to post more self-promotional content in their “About Me” and “Notes” sections than women, although women are more likely to stress their physical attractiveness and sociability.

(MORE: Who Wields The Most Influence On Facebook?)

The authors write [PDF]:

Overall, however, shared content does not have to be “explicitly boastful” for envy feelings to emerge. In fact, a lonely user might envy numerous birthday wishes his more sociable peer receives on his FB Wall. Equally, a friend’s change in the relationship status from “single” to “in a relationship” might cause emotional havoc for someone undergoing a painful breakup.

So far, it seems that the positive effects of being socially connected supersede the negative consequences of feeling inferior or left out by your circle of friends. But the authors suggest that if the hurtful feelings grow, Facebook and other social media may no longer be a fun way to stay connected with friends, but could become just another source of stress for people.

The research will be presented at an information system conference in Germany in February, called the 11th International Conference on Wirtschaftsinformatik.

MORE: Pediatricians Should Discuss ‘Facebook Depression’ with Kids

158 comments
leebridgitt
leebridgitt

This website is making me feel worse each day I go on. I cut back on it tremendously. I think it is incredibly sad that you can have people who bullied you or worse ignored you outright sending you requests. I did not like you then, and guess what? Feelings remain unchanged. I prefer face to face, or even just the phone now.

robfra5074
robfra5074

When I left Facebook last year (almost been a year now) I had realized how unhappy I was, feeling depressed, not really having a real life because I was using Facebook and felt connected, in reality I was not. I won't judge Facebook though for me I enjoy the human connections much more in person than on Facebook. The best social media is always at the dinner table, and when I have seen people actually text at the dinner table rather than talk.......saddens me more to see the human element has been replaced by tech devices and the internet.

meekahshine
meekahshine

Facebook has become pretty lame.  Its more about hey look at me than actually wanting to connect with friends.  Its a shame really.  You get adds from people who dont keep in touch with you.   It's just a legal way to stalk people.  Pretty pathetic.  

valerielaperre98
valerielaperre98

i think facebook is not to blame because I think Facebook is not to blame because it is good to follow your friends and family members on your Facebook account. I think you should always have a Facebook account on your hand and you should at least have good manners and not bad manner when using Facebook

crisld2011
crisld2011

Facebook can make you feel depressed or not, depends on you and the way you see life. Anybody is free of bad feelings. In the same way, everybody is able to feel happy for others people achievements. Besides, facebook gives you an opportunity to keep in touch with people how are important to you, which it is great!

peipei
peipei

Peiya Xu 

Why Facebook makes you feel bad about yourself

After I read the article, I real feel that sometimes the social connection tools make people's relationship worsen. For example, some people would think that they always like their friends' pics but their friend never pay attention about their pic, even if one time. Like the author wrote that " If the hurtful feeling grow, FB or other social media may no longer be a fun way to stay connected with your friend. " just don't open them. We can use reading to instead of watching FB website.

blazingblackness
blazingblackness

I just quit Facebook after having it for about four years. I found myself mindlessly logging in and not realizing until a few minutes after scrolling through my news feed and seeing the same stuff I had seen an hour ago! On top of the fact that I have family that were on my friends list but we never talked other than commenting on pics and status updates. If we cant talk in real life then why bother on Facebook?

sallyatwater4
sallyatwater4

This is the most ridiculous article I have ever read. You feel worse because you see photos of other people having fun? Seems like you would feel worse sooner or later if that's the kind of person you are. How about we focus on the good. Isn't it great that we live in a time where I can actually see my little niece and nephew who live 3,000 miles away grow up right before my eyes.  Or we can celebrate others success? Get over it. 

KurtMottor
KurtMottor

I'm considering quitting Facebook.  It's a great mess. 

handsomejack777
handsomejack777

Deleted it over a year ago and never going back. Stop documenting every second of your life staring at a phone and go live your life..

FBSucks
FBSucks

This is so true! Seeing other people with fun and fulfilled lives leaves a feeling of depression and low self esteem, especially when you never get any comments or likes on anything at all! Even my own friends act like I am not not even on FB. I do want to get rid of it but at the same time I don't because it is the only form of communication, not like anyone communicates with me to begin with. So I guess it all comes down to the fact that I really do not have any friends at all, wouldn't call the people on my friends list whom I once knew friends or anything close to it cause they obviously are "better than me". I think FB changes people cause even the people you do know act like they are to good to talk to you, and FB is FILLED with narcissistic people. I believe people's lives would be better if they would shut it down for good, I wouldn't miss it!

MikePaulSanders
MikePaulSanders

Actually, these social media sites like Facebook and Google+ has helped me lower my walls and be more social with people around me.

alleenurp
alleenurp

FB has its perks and its disadvantages. I can't really say FB is good, at the same time, I can't really latch onto the idea that FB is bad. I personally think it's a matter of preference and wholly depends on how the individual himself/herself wants to view it. There's a reason why we like it and sometimes, why we hate it. I hate it because of the lack of privacy, teens getting exposure more than they asked for, dealing with our EXes & the fact that some of my friends think FB is everything to them to the point that they choose to believe that without FB, survival is close to impossible. Someone also mentioned that the friends you add in FB because they sent friend requests don't acknowledge the you in reality which I found it to be very true.(why send friend requests if you don't really mean it?) On the other hand, I like FB because I got to meet some of my friends I lost contact with for more than 8 years(an epic experience if you say so), & how someone mentioned here too, get a good laugh at other people's miserable lives(not that it hurts, does it?), & of course getting to keep in touch with loved ones living on different corners of the globe on a daily basis! But I've decided to keep out of FB because it's a huge distraction to my studies. Anyway, I'm only saying people should be decisive, make the right choices and not blame others for their downfall. 

VickiThrift
VickiThrift

the PETA fools and animal rights activist can go suck it. I'm sick of their propaganda in my news feed.

RobbiStyleTV
RobbiStyleTV

This article is only relevant to the insecure. Otherwise, you don't have problems. Another one-sided article from Ms. Sifferlin. 

Keep your "friends" number to the actual friends you have in real life. If you have identity-crisis - don't blame it on Facebook. 


ArryStark
ArryStark

I dunno, I LOVE getting to scan through my mobile FB while sitting for an oil change, waiting for my <a href="http://www.azarkodental.com/azarko-south-office">dentist in Edmonton South</a> or outside the daycare waiting for my daughter to come out. I just eliminated the people who were so negative that I didn't want to read their posts. Does this make me a Pollyanna? Sure! But does it keep my happier to stay in touch with all my friends, see baby photos, graduation announcements and sure, get jealous over their vacation photos? Yes, it does. Our world is socially connected and we are a part of it - like it or not!

seemorebutts
seemorebutts

You know why I hate the internet and face book especially...

Im sick of the bullys, the perverts, the haters, the online "fighters", the blamers,\

Im sick of stalkers,

Im sick of seeing the same chit chat that is being taught every day non stop, constantly

Im sick of face book because its destroying the lives of people today right now, since 2000? Its affecting you, your children, your families,its gotten to be out of line why.

Im sick of everyone being connected to face book. Every person sounds like the same person.

Im sick of feeling like a shadow is following everywhere I go!

Im sick of all the nonsense! People are becoming Fat,mean,uneducated,boring,perverse,bullys,get rid of this before it destroys everyone!

Im sick of all of the trouble that comes of it!

Im sick of the gossipers, coneivers, im sick of how my esp kicks in, Im sick of being treated like im sh*t!

Im sick of being watched by people (not my face book freinds), but the other people!

Im sick of everything going on public, nothing is every private on the computer!

Im so sick of the fact you dont feel like anything is private

Im sick of people not having lives anymore, grow up! Delete your account, set some goals, read some books, take soem college classes,go for a walk, stop hiding

Im sick of people who try and online bully, its really sickening! Get a life!

Im sick of the internet period but, face book should DEFINATELY in no doubt whatsoever be destroyed. Who has the power to do it, why are they refraining to stop a big gigantic mistake! Why are peopel putting on there pants and putting there foot down. Its not working for people. Watch as people get stupider, more boring,more shallow, more bully like, more uneducated, and more mean! Watch, change it or watch the world suffer! Im getting rid of my account. im not afraid of these online bullier, they will face god!

AnaVelez
AnaVelez

I had Facebook and just deactivated, FB wasn't for me...I always tend to reach out all the time and if  I don't, no one post anything in my wall or there is no interaction with me at all...always is about commenting about the Post..just got tired of it ...besides I need to be productive in other areas of my life..people always will have to say something about you..religion, politics, travels, family....so whatever..I think I feel more at peace and go old school...much much better!!! 

Grover_Sage
Grover_Sage

If you have good friends....then FB simply connects you to them. Unhealthy people with social 'issues' can't understand this. Even now as they read this, all they can think about is attacking me........


If you have bad friends....then FB amplifies that.


The thing is, if you state on the internet that you are just fine with FB....you will be attacked by the most pathetic insulting losers.

There's nothing new about misery that loves company.


Ultimately.........the best revenge is living well.

SagarSharma
SagarSharma

I am writing from India and an avid reader of "Time"; the article hits the grail on its Facebook :-) In fact, I had deactivated my FB account only a few months ago!

In my personal opinion, Facebook is a tool for those who wish to fan their egos and prove superiority over others by posting and (copying!) pasting and indulgence in a kind of exhibitionism that helps them achieve their end-goal: to raise their bar and overcome the existing (common!) sense of low self-esteem! I have seen many colleagues and friends, married, unmarried and bachelors who spend a lot of (QUALITY!) time on FB that could otherwise have been invested in a more constructive manner with families and friends; in fact, judging by the amount of time people spend on Facebook, (I did before signing off!) is a clear sign of loneliness and depression.....!

In case the PR team of FB is reading this, would like them to know that before signing off I had 246 friends on the list, of which only some 40-odd "posted" their birthday wishes on my wall; earlier we celebrated birthdays with greeting cards and phone call to make someone feel TRULY special! In fact, there have been occasions when a few Facebook "friends" passed by me and never even acknowledged when they came Face-to-Face!

raeesmuqthar
raeesmuqthar

Facebook has been very well known for wasting a lot of peoples time, but how about an alternative that could enhance productivity, would that gain much traction as facebook did ?

JohnKrawczyk
JohnKrawczyk

I feel bad after signing into facebook because I can barely get anything to work.  Someone sends me a message and for the life of me I can't figure out where it is & how to read it.  It's like trying to format stuff in Microsoft Office: an intensely fustrating experience.


Consequently I don't login very often so I've never developed that necessary expertise of knowing how to do stuff in FB.  It's a vicious cycle.  I usually just then stick to solving partial differential equations which are a lot easier & more satisfying.

metta2uall
metta2uall

IMHO it'd be more accurate to write "Why Facebook Triggers Miserable Feelings" since, thankfully, the reaction of getting miserable from Facebook posts comes from within the mind, so every person can develop a much happier reaction, through for example cultivating metta and mudita.

MoEweeny
MoEweeny

Facebook I LOVE you and you bring me Down 

BhigBhadWolf
BhigBhadWolf

Actually for me it has the OPPOSITE effect. I get a chuckle about how many people I have on my feed that have created such sad and dismal lives for themselves. Every status update is either some complaint about how their lives suck, or some trite image with some dumb quote of affirmation on it.... usually about how "no one can break them down because they've been though hell" B.S.
Most of them are stuck in dull marriages, they have tons of kids that eat up their time, and they live in a house they bought during the housing bubble. 
Sucks to be them, but it's fun as hell to be me!

JoeyZuraski
JoeyZuraski

Facebook doesn't make me miserable. My family gives me moral support and likes to accomplishments like a successful week of weight loss to my goal to battle obesity which is what everyone should do.

RebeccaChapman
RebeccaChapman

This stuff is bullcrap.  I have 156 people on my FB account.  They come from around the world and all walks of life.  I enjoy reading their posts.  I have no braggarts.  No overly boo-hooers.  I love seeing vacation photos then I can see places I might otherwise never get a chance to go see.  I call it armchair sightseeing.  We encourage each other and give words of kindness.  I have a couple of people on FB that don't even speak English.  I wish I spoke Italian but I don't.  I like their pictures and they like mine and add smily faces.  We started out being "game friends" but I quit playing the game more than a year ago.  I love all the new friends I've made.  An old friend of mine from high school is on my list.  She never had any foreign friends until she made a comment on a post a police officer from Bangladesh wrote.  Now they are such good friends he even sent her a sari.  You can get out of FB what you put into it.  By the way, I have been treated for depression since long before FB was ever around.  I enjoy the interactions.

zenmonkey
zenmonkey

facebook is a giant experiment in voyeurism. it has basically exploited a latent desire in all of us to be voyeurs because most of us are insufferable bored creatures.

KathleenMIsabell
KathleenMIsabell

I get sad because of all the tear-jerker stories my friends post.

DaveMoff
DaveMoff

Realizing, while using Facebook, that it is a complete waste of time and that you should have better things to do doesn't help one's mood at all either.

Yogajitsu
Yogajitsu

I also have friends who posts about their hardships and needing help... If that makes you feel better

Desertgirl
Desertgirl

See your niece grow up right before your eyes? And you need social media to facilitate that?. My sister shares pics with me that she doesn't share on Facebook, it feels more special when it's not for the whole world to see. Facebook is the lazy (impersonal) way to connect with family and friends. It just doesn't give me the warm and fuzzies to see family pics on a constructed website built to make money for its creator. And what's with these ads and suggested posts now, just seems a tad creepy.

LizPrill77
LizPrill77

@RobbiStyleTV Yes, younger people tend to be self-centered anyway, so they probably don't see how gross the self-promotion can get. And I'd think a person must have low self-esteem to keep feeling the need to point to others as being insecure. I've seen the same comment a few times on this page, and there are a few people here who seem to be looking for someone else to agree with them that Facebook really is great. Well, hate to break it to you, but that is also a sign of insecurity.

VickiThrift
VickiThrift

@seemorebutts The games are fun and i love that my family are my friends but anyone else can delete me for all i care. . 

Peter1234321
Peter1234321

@AnaVelez  

Plus when you finally see someone you haven't seen in a while you actually can tell them something they really don't know and they don't have to pretend to be surprised!

iguysla
iguysla

@Grover_Sage 


Dude, you must be sooo popular lol! Ya I agree this can be true, still doesnt stop the fact that almost 90% of the people on FB religiously now are almost all either self-obsessed(esp girls, just cuz alot of guys like/comment doesnt mean your popular it means your prob easy) or huge losers with no face to face communication skills. 

Case in point I have a semi close friend I used to hang out with all the time. He hated computers and didnt get the internet until like 2009. Now hes a fb fiend and he posts the same cycle of posts every day/week.. he gets pretty much the same amount of likes, by the same people(people/girls he doesnt really know). He now loves FB cuz he gets likes and stuff but when he comes to visit me hes a shell of his former self. Hes lame, boring and doesnt have any actual real life friends. Everyone thats really active on My feed is a losery type of person in real life. 

FB is for girls who love themselves and little boys who are trying to be cool by everyone elses definition. 

LizPrill77
LizPrill77

@Grover_Sage Just the fact that you're commenting on here, and feeling the need to defend Facebook and your use of it, says a lot. If it doesn't bother you, it doesn't bother you, why even comment on the article?

LizPrill77
LizPrill77

@metta2uall Yeah, no one is going to meditate in order to better use Facebook, which in itself is a substitute for real-world relationships.

LizPrill77
LizPrill77

@RebeccaChapman I think the la-di-da comments on here are bullcrap. And so what if you're meeting people online and not in real life. It's a substitute for actually living life.

RobbiStyleTV
RobbiStyleTV

@RebeccaChapman THANK YOU ! This article is for the insecure. I have family in India and London that I communicate with, which makes my 89 yr old grandmother happy. 

inhomenotary
inhomenotary

@Yogajitsu Yeah, but do you actually try to help them through their hardships, or do you simply do what the rest of the lifeless losers on FB do and wish them well, thinking that someone else will help them?

RobbiMoolji
RobbiMoolji

@artdesignsbynicoleand I'm referencing real life. Sure, it makes you feel bad about yourself if you surround yourself with morons who post negative stuff all day and are insecure already. Facebook to me - makes me feel great - maybe they should have put me in the study? Furthermore, people do use Facebook to communicate with people overseas which makes it amazing. This is one facet of negative side of Facebook. Not the whole picture.

Yogajitsu
Yogajitsu

@inhomenotary Sometimes they need to be wished well. I guess you don't get that.

inhomenotary
inhomenotary

@Yogajitsu Wishes don't help people, but actions do.  I'm not the one with the comprehension problem here.