Is Facebook Making You Feel Lonely?

For those who are single and looking for love you may want to avoid spending too much time reading the updates on Facebook. According to a study conducted at two German universities, the constant display of people’s love lives, successes, and vacations often leaves readers feeling envious and sad. In fact, based on the study, those who were frequent Facebook users reported less general life satisfaction.

It seems that vacation photos were among the biggest offenders in their ability to trigger the green-eyed monster or, in other words, envy. Sadly, the results of this particular study, in a nutshell, shows Facebook users basically being envious of other people’s happiness and good fortune.

Certainly the content that people post is incredibly selective. It is not often that you see photos of someone having a bad hair day or looking their worst. Also true is that users tend to post good news, unless of course they are seeking support from friends in a time of stress or tragedy. What readers who are less than satisfied with their life are generally experiencing, as they read their Facebook News Feed, is a small but glowing slice of their “friends’” lives. The tendency to compare yourself to others is natural but when you are comparing your own situation to the carefully filtered information you see in these posts, you may end up wanting. This is an important concept to keep in mind if you find yourself in this situation.

There have been numerous studies done describing the toll Facebook can take on our delicate feelings and some even link this phenomenon to an exacerbation of mental health problems. Of great concern, in my opinion, is how these sites affect adolescents who, at best, are dealing with heightened emotions and feelings of vulnerability.

Facebook does have some redeeming qualities and some reports describe positive psychological benefits from using the site. The clear message here is moderation and maintaining perspective. If you are feeling particularly lonely or sensitive take a short break from reading your friends’ happy updates. Find ways to connect with people in the real world who will offer a more balanced view of life, rather than the positive sound bites you see on-line. Resist the urge to compare yourself, your friend count, or anything else you see on social networking sites.


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Cyndi Sarnoff-Ross

Cyndi Sarnoff-Ross is a licensed psychotherapist with over 20 years of clinical experience in the fields of clinical psychology and organizational management. She has worked extensively with a wide variety of mental health issues including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, grief and loss, and family and marriage issues.

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