Facebook is a great source for catching up with long-lost friends or keeping in touch with family all over the world, but a new study suggests that the number of Facebook friends you have is directly related to how stressed out you are.
Psychologists from Edinburgh Napier University conducted a study to see if those users with more friends were feeling unnecessary anxiety from using Facebook. The results published today and reported on by bit-tech suggest that the negative anxiety caused by the site in some users actually can overcome the positive aspects of keeping in touch with others.
Dr. Kathy Charles, the lead researcher, had a few statements regarding Facebook, showing it in a negative light simply due to the psychology that the site uses. Charles said that there is "great pressure to be on Facebook but for most, only very modest or tenuous rewards." Chances are when you meet someone new in today's world, asking if they have a Facebook will come up in conversation or one party will head home and look up the other person on the social network. More and more friends are added, but that also increases the amount of stress that may come from friendships, and this unnatural amount of friends and social information can almost be overwhelming.
Charles also says Facebook is an addiction akin to gambling, where "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." Those who do manage to escape or are thinking about it may feel "anxious about withdrawing from the site for fear of missing important social information or offending contacts."
Interesting data points on normal Facebook functions were also found:
- 12% of respondents said that Facebook made them feel anxious
- 63% delayed replying to friend requests
- 32% said rejecting friend requests led to feelings of guilt and discomfort
- 10% admitted disliking receiving friend requests
Facebook has become a major social aspect in today's world, but perhaps humans are simply not meant to be constantly in contact with this magnitude of others all of the time. Facebook is an online communication standard now, essentially beating out traditional instant messengers and forcing more to use the network.
Of course, your personal stress levels depend on how you use the site and not just how involved you are. If you tend to constantly be checking for new news from friends and wish to keep in touch with every person you've met, then this study probably applies to you. However, if you just occasionally use the site or perhaps only use it for Facebook chat with close friends which you handle through an instant messenger client, then you most likely won't experience this stress factor as much.