Facebook truly embodies the meaning of the word “frenemy.”
Although Facebook is meant to help us “stay connected,” researchers from Edinburgh Napier University in Scotland concluded in a recent study that the more friends a user has, the more social anxiety that person experiences, according to a Feb. 21 article from the Dallas Business Journal.
“We found it was actually those with the most contacts, those who had invested the most time in the site, who were the ones most likely to be stressed,” lead researcher Dr. Kathy Charles said in the article.
So what constitutes being “invested” in the social networking site? According to Facebook, the average user has 130 friends.
Some probably don’t have a second thought about 130 friends. Most of my friends within the TCU network probably average closer to 500, and my most “popular” friends are within the bounds of 2,000.
The link between social anxiety and number of Facebook friends is obvious 8212; the larger your “audience,” the more meticulous one is in writing the funniest or most interesting or smartest status. Knowing 500 or 1,000 people may read what you have to say 8212; even if it is just “I love my dog!” 8212; is a lot of pressure for the average person.
That anxiety finds a way to creep into every section Facebook has to offer, especially to pictures.
I’ve heard people say they will take a camera to an event “for Facebook” or eagerly ask if pictures taken of them will appear on the site. People care; they want to be seen. They know others will look through their pictures, and therefore wish to present a certain perspective of their lives.
The same need to “prove oneself,” per se, is also dominant in the “relationship status” function.
According to the article, a recent survey found that nearly half of all U.S. adult users reported using the social media site to show they were in a relationship. Three-fourths of single Facebook users admitted to using the site to look for potential relationships.
Especially true to college dating culture, being “FBO” 8212; Facebook Official 8212; seems to be the pinnacle of success and even legitimacy for a relationship.
The more friends you have, the more you feel the need to affirm your lifestyle through your profile. Those who add people they don’t truly know, like “that girl from biology” or “the friend from fifth grade,” are essentially sharing every corner of their lives with strangers.
This constant surveillance of both our own lives and the hovering over the lives of our peers is also a huge time suck. We spend hours wasting away time. To be precise, people spend a combined 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook, according to the site.
It is so difficult for some to release themselves from the site that some people even change their friends’ passwords, refusing to return them until critical tests are over.
With such negative consequences, people may consider deleting their accounts. But, as the study found, people are too afraid of the social consequences to do so.
“Like gambling, Facebook keeps users in a neurotic limbo, not knowing whether they should hang on in there just in case they miss out on something good,” Charles said in the article.
I know I am guilty of that rationale; I have considered how much more I would be able to focus without the distraction of Facebook. But alas, I am hooked, just like my peers.
That being said, feel free to add me and explore the meticulously manicured image of who I present myself to be.
Emily Atteberry is a freshman political science and journalism double major from Olathe, Kan.