Have a lot of Facebook friends? You might be more stressed because of it

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.

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25 Comments

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These studies take it too far.

I'm on facebook but it's not the end of the world if I have a few requests waiting. I've never felt stressed because of facebook.

Well I'm all cool and popular with over 9,000,000 friends but its no big deal and I don't stress over it, sometimes I leave friend requests for over 3 years and if you don't talk to me at least once a month or post status updates and like things that make me LOL, vamoose!

^These people are SOO cool...

I got rid of my FB and Twitter recently and I am doing fine! No more oversharing, no more online drama. Ergo, this article holds water imho. I do feel less stressed.

I have what amounts to an average sized fl - around 150, but i find i really dont give a crap about facebook i leave friends requests languishing for months and i never bother replying to messages so i guess the only emotion fb elicits from me is apathy. I suppose it has something to do with thinking it was way better when only uni stude ts were allowed in. Now that everyone can join I get the riff raff adding me from school and its not like i care about their pathetic lives.

"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."

That's definitely my next status update :-P

"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."

Haha! That is actually pretty true for me. At times, I definitely feel like I should just delete my profile but am worried if I do I will miss out on something.

littleneutrino said,
Nothing I have to worry much about being that I only have like 34 friends or something like that lol.

I have 1900+ friends (mostly from Mafia Wars). Not stressed much. Maybe because I can selectively read what on the News Feed, and avoid being overwhelmed?

- I Hide Friend Feeds of "Acquaintances"
- I Hide Friend Feeds of people who post too much negative status messages. Same thing in Yahoo Messenger -- I delete unhappy people.

Facebook does not add anything important to life than "real world" tools already do.
I hate social networks because they make me see things I mostly don't wanna see, or don't need to see.

Luis Mazza said,
Facebook does not add anything important to life than "real world" tools already do.
I hate social networks because they make me see things I mostly don't wanna see, or don't need to see.

Ergh, +1 for sure. The STFU, Parents blog is a great example of this. Facebook is responsible for more direct oversharing than any other media I can think of, and it irks me.

Luis Mazza said,
Facebook does not add anything important to life than "real world" tools already do.
I hate social networks because they make me see things I mostly don't wanna see, or don't need to see.

This speaks more to the quality of your friends than the quality of social networks.

djurbino said,

This speaks more to the quality of your friends than the quality of social networks.

That's why I don't want to know some things about them: because maybe they're not bad people at all, they just don't have the obligation of pleasing me online.

I have well over 200 friends but I'm not really stressed out about it. There's people on there that I talk to more often then others, but that's like real life really. Facebook to me is kind of like a massive social address book where I keep pretty much everyone I know on there. I may end up talking to some people in that address book once year, others once a week, others once a day. But well, that's okay in my eyes. I don't really go around actively thinking I need to keep in contact with that many people, that's just crazy. Nobody does that in RL so why they think they need to do so on Facebook is beyond me.

The Teej said,
I have well over 200 friends but I'm not really stressed out about it. There's people on there that I talk to more often then others, but that's like real life really. Facebook to me is kind of like a massive social address book where I keep pretty much everyone I know on there. I may end up talking to some people in that address book once year, others once a week, others once a day. But well, that's okay in my eyes. I don't really go around actively thinking I need to keep in contact with that many people, that's just crazy. Nobody does that in RL so why they think they need to do so on Facebook is beyond me.

I quite agree, although I feel much better now that I've narrowed my friends from ~360 to 98.

plasmarox said,

I quite agree, although I feel much better now that I've narrowed my friends from ~360 to 98.


I delete people once a month depending on amount of contact I have with them. Of course, they know that I do that when I accept them on their so they know not to take it personally.

I delay friend requests for the simple fact that I don't jump to accept/deny the moment I see them.. by that time I already forget that they're pending in my inbox. And as far as rejecting goes, I have no qualms about it. My internet shell be tough!

DerekMorgan said,
Too true. :-/

1. Just Hide them from the News Feed if a "Friend" is more of an "Acquintance"
2. Always keep your Chat Box Offline.