Too Many Facebook Friends May Cause Stress, Anxiety

Too Many Facebook Friends May Cause Stress, Anxiety | 40Tech

Having many friends is classically considered a desirable thing, leading to things like wealth of spirit, a good self-image, and a generally happy life. Not so in the modern days of the internet, where terms like “friend” are used as a label for the barest acquaintance, and sometimes even for enemies. In fact, in a recent study by psychologists from Edinburgh Napier University, it was discovered that the amount of “friends” you keep on Facebook may be linked to heightened feelings of anxiety and stress.

Scream image by Robbert van der Steeg

200 students were surveyed, and it was discovered that at least 12% of them felt that Facebook made them anxious. Each of those 12% maintained an average of 117 “friends,” while the remaining 88% kept an average of 75. Some other interesting findings were as follows:

  • Many felt a great pressure to be on Facebook, but there was “considerable ambivalence” as to its benefits.
  • Stress from Facebook use was caused by many different stimuli, including “feelings of exclusion, pressure to be entertaining, paranoia, or envy of others’ lifestyles.”
  • 63% would delay replying to friend requests.
  • 32% felt guilty rejecting friend requests.
  • 10% didn’t like receiving friend requests at all.

The word “friend” could be the main cause of Facebook-related stresses. Perhaps the social media giant should come up with a proprietary name they can trademark, or use something closer to the word “acquaintance” as opposed to a word that is meant to engender feelings of warmth, familiarity, and long term trust. Keeping things as they are, however helps to foster an environment where users, who are still emotionally tied to the meaning of the word friend (no matter how watered down it has become), feel compelled to log on, invite others, and be a part of the service — and maybe more due to its negative aspects instead of the purported positives.

Perhaps we should all just bite the bullet and prune our lists down to our actual friends?

What do you think?

Does Facebook Stress You Out? [WebProNews]

Bobby Travis

Bobby isn't 40-something, but is a strong supporter of the Grown-up Geek kind. He's a loving husband and father first, but is also a freelance writer, productivity nut, operatically trained singer, and (not-so) closet geek. Check out his random thoughts, wackiness, and Instagram pics on Tumblr, Twitter, or Google+-- or just head over to


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  2. Wow. 117 doesn’t really seem like that many. I have 219, and the vast majority are people that I’d definitely chat with if I saw them on the street. (There are also some fiction writers who are friendly with their fans – I’d definitely chat with them if I had the chance, but I likely won’t).

    I don’t feel compelled to join people mob’s or help with the Farmville farms, though, and I am never around on Facebook chat. I’d interact the same way if I had 20 friends or 1000.

    I wonder if this isn’t a true cause and effect. Perhaps these people have a deeper feeling of the need to be included, and this causes them to have more friends (accepting all request without thought of ignoring) AND feeling the need to constantly respond to stuff.

    • I don’t know, Kosmo, I’ve heard many express feelings like in the article. I’ve felt some of them myself, and I’m generally not afraid to be straightforward. Nobody likes to feel like a jerk, though, and denying friend requests can make that happen, and that can cause guilt and stress and pressure and all of that.

      When I first started with social media, I felt the pressure to always be on it and not wanting to miss anything as well. After a while, though, I re-evaluated that position and pulled way back from it, to get and maintain a better perspective. Maybe the younger folks who were a part of the survey find it harder to take a step back?

      • That very well could be. While I’ve always been a techie, I’m a real latecomer to social media (got on Facebook in 2008, maybe?)

        Within a month, I set my IM status to offline permanently. I was constantly getting chat requests from friends. That’s great, but I often only had a few minutes at a time. I let it be know that I’m happy to respond to messages, but that I just don’t do chat.

      • I’m the same when it comes to chat. In fact, since Facebook has come along, I have killed pretty much all IM activity everywhere, as the “you message me and I’ll get back to you when I have time” model works much better insofar as keeping me sane is concerned. In fact, the more “social” I have become, in general, the more I have put constraints on real time interactions. Maybe that’s what everyone should do…

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