Study: Too much time on Facebook leads to envy, depression

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Constantly checking Facebook to see what your friends are doing could lead to some serious depression.

A recent study conducted by researchers at Nanyang Technological University, Bradley University and the University of Missouri Columbia found that heavy Facebook users can experience envy — which can ultimately lead to extreme sadness.

The researchers surveyed 736 college students and found that, basically, if you quietly stalk your friends on Facebook and then realize that your life doesn’t measure up to theirs, you feel bad about yourself.

“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,” said Margaret Duffy, a professor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

This isn’t just a college phenomenon. I am nearing middle age and I can relate.

Facebook is a huge part of my life. Like most Facebook users, I have the app on my phone. I check it at work. I check it at home. I check it when I am out. If I am in a subway station with Wi-Fi, I check it there too.

I am up to date on all my friends, their kids and whatever they are reading at that moment. Unfortunately, it’s an addiction that I can’t quit.

Facebook has allowed me a little window into my friends’ lives back home. They have babies — well some of them have teenagers. They have lovely homes. And the dinners — oh the dinners they serve! There are food presentations that look like something out of a Martha Stewart magazine. I watch all the videos of their kids saying the darndest things. I click on their pictures of vacations in exotic places.

I have come to the conclusion that Facebook is a lifestyle magazine featuring my friends, who are doing it better than me.

I peruse Facebook from computer on my coffee table, because I am not grown up enough to buy a desk for myself. My coffee table is my all-purpose table. I eat there too — usually hunks of cheese with a knife and no crackers. That’s right no crackers, because I am too lazy to run out to the bodega.

My only consolation is sometimes my friends confuse “there,” “their” and “they’re” in their posts about their lovely vacations and darling children. Then suddenly, I feel a little bit better about myself.

By Cara Reedy for CNN

4 comments

  • miles (dave)

    whenever i see someone doing something better than me that i think is important or interesting instead of getting upset i get to work. when i had a friend that was much better at being social than i was then i got to work im still working on it and im so much better at it than i was before, when i saw people that were happier than i was i got to work figuring out what makes me happy turns out the answer to that is progression, so i do a lot of that.

    i dont care if the glass is half full or half empty if i want more in the glass i should go fill the thing up.

    my friends arnt bad for being better than i am at things, im bad if i want to be better than i am and i dont get to work. sure its easier in the short run to make excuses to not try but its so much funner and easier in the long run to get to work and turn my world into what i want it to be. i love knowing im responsible for my world.

    • victims rights

      Miles,
      Your attitude is great. I admire you for it. But, it is not as easy for some as it is for you. Some people don’t have the means even as hard as some try to change. There are some things that can’t be changed, it is the sad part of reality.

      • miles (dave)

        i do believe that we all have things that some are better at than others, these things include things like confidence, and drive , and things that interest and dont interest us. i honestly dont feel like your comment was negative at all as a matter of fact thank you, but i would like to clarify something. the reason i said what i did is the day i realized i didnt have to put up with the terribly unreasonable treatment i was receiving from every facet of life, was a (im not going to make a big enough deal out of this) very huge significant total paradigm shift, for me. it was nothing short of a religious experience for me. all of the sudden i could do anything, and most importantly be anyone, my life became something i engineered and built as i went, and not just something that happened to me.

        just the feeling of knowing i didnt have to suffer anymore was a high ill never forget, let alone the results that me and my heavenly father have placed in my life.

        my goal in saying what i said is only to encourage others to do the same. regardless of anyone elses feelings about it when someone is ready to be sick and tired of being sick and tired the difference between someone doing what i did and continuing to grind to a halt may be knowing its possible. i know for me the moment i realized that the trick was all about the results of the decisions i made and taking responsibility for anything i could change, it was very easy for me to except that change, at the time do to its goodness it seamed like my only option, and i know others may not find it as easy as i did, however id say its worth almost any price.

        perhaps some people get blown out of the water when they hear me talk about taking all this responsibility and thats fine but i need to talk to those who are ready to take it all the way, as for everyone else thats ok just take a smaller bite, find something smaller that you can change then focus on that for a bit

        i feel that for me to have found such a great thing and not share it would be a huge disservice. i shared it because i care.

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