I was afraid of this:
“Research into how social media websites define us socially and the influence that social media has on our personal welfare suggests that a lack of social participation on Facebook leads to people feeling less meaningful.” (www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140508095456.htm)
The article on Science Daily’s website last spring highlights research suggesting that we’re happier if we’re posting away on Facebook and getting lots of feedback from our friends. The first study examined frequent Facebook posters. Half the participants actively posted and the other half passively observed. The second group experienced “a negative impact on personal well-being”.
In a second study, researchers asked a group of participants using anonymous Facebook accounts to post and comment. It was set up so that half the group would not see any feedback. They were then “interviewed on their feelings of belonging, meaningful existence, self-esteem and control after the exercise”.
“Both passive and shunned users experienced feelings of exclusion and felt ‘invisible’ and less important as individuals. Shunned users also experienced lower self-esteem and control.”
I guess these findings show that Facebook can have a positive affect on how we feel about ourselves, but I started wondering about the different experiences and expectations of various groups – particularly in terms of age and how regularly they use social media like Facebook. For example, the first study looked at frequent Facebook users – perhaps the results would have been less striking if they had included a number of non-frequent Facebook users, like me.
Unfortunately I can’t access the original study published in the Journal of Social Influence. But I would love to know the age range and previous Facebook exposure of the participants in the second study. I can examine my own feelings when I receive a comment or like after a rare post I’ve made – I guess it does feel good. But I still rarely post. Is it because I’m older, just don’t have time, couldn’t care less about what half of my connections are posting…?
What about you? I know in our class we have quite a range of ages and experiences. Are these effects more striking among younger people who have been growing up with social media? I’d love to know from teenagers especially if they feel don’t feel cool unless they’re posting regularly, and not just the popular kids. What if you’re unpopular, and nobody ever comments, are you feeling worse? I guess I’ll start asking my nieces as they approach this delicate age.