The online personalities we’ve created for ourselves nowadays may be much more realistic than they were back in the Myspace years (I know I’m not the only one guilty of posing, applying tonnes of make-up and Photohopping EVERYTHING, right?!), but even now they’re still not completely accurate representations of our real lives. After all, you can’t possibly express everything that happens from day-to-day online! So although someone may seem to have only the most idyllic, fun-loving, photos and status updates on Facebook, that doesn’t mean every second of their life is filled with holidays, gorgeous friends and lovely clothes.
Although I’m sure we’re all well aware of this, it’s sometimes hard to not feel a little envious of that blogger with the designer wardrobe, time to cook cupcakes every night and a seemingly perfect job. But that green-eyed ‘Facebook envy’ feeling is only natural, right?
Well, a new study conducted by a team of sociologists at the Utah Valley University found that the way we view our lives and ourselves could very much be dependent on how much time we spend online, which is hardly good news for those of us who need to constantly check social media a lot as part of our jobs…
The research took around 400 students and asked them a series of statements about their lives, such as “life is fair” or “many of my friends have a better life than me”. They were then asked all kinds of questions about Facebook, including how much time they spend on the social network, to see if there was any correlation.
The team soon found a pattern in that those who spend more time on Facebook start to think other people have a much better life than they do, which is a little worrying, but hardly surprising.
Two members of the team, Hui-Tzu Grace Chou and Nicholas Edge said:
“Those who have used Facebook longer agreed more that others were happier, and agreed less that life is fair, and those spending more time on Facebook each week agreed more that others were happier and had better lives. Furthermore, those that included more people whom they did not personally know as their Facebook “friends” agreed more that others had better lives.”
It’s sad to think that browsing through the lives of your friends could have a negative impact on how you view yourself and your little place in the world. But, although in many ways the likes of Facebook and Twitter mean our online and offline lives are more closely connected than ever before, you still need to remember that photos, status updates and seemingly perfect lives can be tweaked, exaggerated and manufactured. The quicker you realise that and tear yourself away from the computer the happier you’ll be – which sounds easy in theory…