Facebook leaves stressed users in “neurotic limbo”
Think having few friends on Facebook makes you a sad sack? Think again.
Having a lot of friends can push you towards toward a life of stress, Scottish researchers have claimed.
According to research conducted by psychologists from Edinburgh Napier University, which surveyed a grand total of 175 of the social network’s 500 million users, the more friends you have, the more likely you are to suffer “Facebook-related anxiety”.
“Our data suggests that there is a significant minority of users who experience considerable Facebook-related anxiety, with only very modest or tenuous rewards,” said study lead Dr Kathy Charles.
“And we found it was actually those with the most contacts, those who had invested the most time in the site, who were the ones most likely to be stressed.”
Like gambling, Facebook keeps users in a neurotic limbo, not knowing whether they should hang on in there just in case they miss out on something good
According to the psychologists, for many subscribers the negative effects of Facebook outweighed the benefits of staying in touch with friends and family.
“An overwhelming majority of respondents reported that the best thing about Facebook was ‘keeping in touch’,” said Dr Charles.
“But many also told us they were anxious about withdrawing from the site for fear of missing important social information or offending contacts,” she said.
“Like gambling, Facebook keeps users in a neurotic limbo, not knowing whether they should hang on in there just in case they miss out on something good.”
In the survey, 12% of respondents said Facebook made them anxious, 32% said rejecting friend requests led to feelings of guilt and discomfort, while 10% admitted disliking receiving friend requests.
Other causes of tension included purging unwanted contacts and the pressure to be inventive and entertaining.
Charles said the survey results backed up responses she had seen in focus group interviews, meaning the research “actually under represented aspects of stress and anxiety felt by some Facebook users”.