Facebook and Social Media Addiction: Making friends or creating enemies?


A new survey by the online deals site Eversave has revealed an interesting Facebook phenomenon: when polling 400 women who use their site, Eversave found that 85% of these women say they have been annoyed by their friends’ Facebook postings.

Not that these results are particularly surprising when you consider that Facebook allows users to read status updates and new posts from people they would never actually consider spending time with outside of online social media.

According to the survey, 74% of women said they used Facebook to keep their friends informed while 64% reported using the site to share information (funny videos, new links, etc). Clearly, the unstated number here is that all Facebook users (100%) visit the site to keep up-to-date on what their “friends” are up-to, even if they haven’t seen these people in years.

No wonder women get annoyed with Facebook friends who they accuse of “bragging”—it’s like attending your high school reunion and finding out that the annoying girl who failed every class is now making 2x as much money as you and has no shame showing you pictures of her Greek Island vacations.

Here are the most bothersome behaviors according to the respondents:

  • Complaining all the time (63 percent)
  • Sharing unsolicited political views (42 percent)
  • Bragging about seemingly perfect lives (32 percent)

In real life, you’d leave the room. With Facebook, it’s hard to look away. In fact, with over 600 million users across the globe (be sure to check out this awesome visualization of the trend), it’s almost like the whole world is on Facebook. A study released on March 16, 2010 by Retrevo Inc revealed that 48% of Facebook and Twitter users reported updating their profiles anytime they wake up at night or as soon as they wake up.

“Among social media users, it appears almost half are so involved with Facebook and Twitter that they check in the first thing in the morning,” said Andrew Eisner, Retrevo’s director of Community and Content, in a press release.

Is this a bad thing? The study also found that over 40% of respondents reported using Twitter and Facebook as their morning news source. Which is all well and good, except for the fact that, like most other online sources, nothing on Twitter or Facebook is vetted by an editor or checked for accuracy (except links to newspaper websites and other verifiable sources).

It gets worse. A study by psychologists at the University of Leeds in the U.K. noted a link between depression and people who spend a significant amount of time online. Heavy internet users are far more likely to suffer from depression.

Researchers noted, however, that they were stuck figuring out which came first—the depressed chicken or the social media egg.

“Our research indicates that excessive Internet use is associated with depression, but what we don’t know is which comes first. Are depressed people drawn to the Internet or does the Internet cause depression?” said researcher Dr. Catriona Morrison who worked on the study.

Tweet this: a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the average gamer is actually a 35-year-old overweight, aggressive, introverted, depressed man.

Returning to the original survey concerning women being annoyed by their Facebook friends: Could Facebook (and other social media sites) have equivalent results for women? Could we begin to see a trend that the women who use Facebook the most are overweight, in their thirties, and depressed?

It seems unlikely. Video games allow one to exist anonymously behind a made-up screen name playing against people the gamer has never met before. Video games create a new world. Facebook, on the other hand, is all about emulating reality online — uploading photos, engaging with friends, crafting clever status updates that will interest people you know; all of these Facebook activities require interaction with people deemed “friends”.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the opposite trend: heavy Facebook users being people who were more satisfied with their own lives and therefore less ashamed to reveal most aspects of their lives to the full gamut of Facebook friends: old high school classmates, people they met once at a party, and their current roommates. (I wouldn’t be surprised if they were good-looking, too, at least from certain camera angles.)

A Harris Poll found that social media sites makes Americans feel more connected with friends but that we’re actually seeming them less in person. Tracking friends’ jobs, relationships, and vacations without having to actually talk to them is bound to make people feel more connected. The lack of face time, however, is surely a double-edged sword. 31% of respondents feel lonelier with Facebook than before. Of course, this means 69% don’t feel that way.

It seems, as always, moderation is key. Facebook and other social media sites are a good way to stay in touch with friends and family. Too much can send you into a tailspin: anger, depression, less face-to-face time with people. Try limiting yourself to visiting the site only twice per day, once in the morning and once at night. Maybe there’s an app for that?

How has Facebook affected your life? Take our short survey!
http://www.surveytool.com/responders/index/id/1538
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8 Responses to Facebook and Social Media Addiction: Making friends or creating enemies?

  1. decidetodecideetc says:

    Depression leads to heavy internet use, not vice verse. If you really have no friends in your real life, your Facebook friends become your ‘friends.’ It is especially thrilling to become friends with the cool kids from high school, people who wouldn’t be seen with you 40 years ago! On Facebook, we’re all equal, well, I guess some people are always more equal than others. Those who post pictures of 4 parties they had to celebrate their 60th birthday are just bragging, especially when you’re going to spend your 60th birthday alone in less than 2 months. Or you’ll spend it with people who don’t know it’s your birthday. Because you won’t tell them. Because you’re only going to spend your birthday with them online.

    • zmfrederick says:

      I think you’re right but, again, it’s hard to prove either way. I’m sure there are people who are perhaps in a new situation and would be very happy with it, but when they continue to see pictures of their old friends daily it makes them more homesick then they would be otherwise… At least that’s how I feel, especially when I studied abroad some of my friends noticed this homesickness problem…

    • zmfrederick says:

      Hey,

      So the results are in for our Facebook usage survey. You can read about the results of our survey in our newest blog post here: http://bit.ly/fhbLBQ

  2. Great survey and great article! Thanks for bringing attention to this important issue. The real question, I think, is why do we need to be distracted from reality so badly that we live vicariously through a little screen? The depression rate is 10x what it was in 1945. Has our genetic structure changed that much in 66 years? No, of course not. The reason the depression rate is skyrocketing is our post-modern lifestyle, which includes greater degrees of alienation and physical isolation than ever before.

    FB can help people stay connected, provided they don’t invest their entire lives in trying to keep up with it and don’t compare themselves to their “friends” online. This is a real problem for young people. The American Academy of Pediatrics has dubbed it a new disease: “Facebook Depression.” For more info, check out https://cprfordepressives.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/facebook-depression/.

    • zmfrederick says:

      I think you’re right. Modern society can be very alienating. Radiohead ironically entitled their documentary, “Meeting People Is Easy,” which I think is a poignant commentary on the way people feel in the modern age.

      Anyway, our survey results are in. Our newest blog post covers the results here: http://bit.ly/fhbLBQ

  3. Internet use also tends to trigger or worsen depression. In most of our social media conversations, we are not true to ourselves. We tend to portray happiness which we do not feel from Inside. We may wish someone happy birthday, wish someone buying a new car, but that does not necessarily translate to genuine happiness. People who become friends through internet media can never be substitute to real life friends.
    Joining a real social platform, connecting with the new members of the platform, is usually a better choice than socializing online.

  4. Pingback: Survey Says: Facebook Friends Can Be Annoying, But Users Don’t Feel Lonely « Survey Tool Blog

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