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]