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Study: Reading About Facebook Friends’ Lives Can Cause Sadness

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV
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BOSTON (CBS) – When you go on Facebook, does it sound like all of your friends are leading fabulous lives and yours is just kind of ordinary?

It’s not unusual for many of us to have felt a little down after going online and reading posts about exotic trips and romantic relationships.

These overly positive declarations can make a Facebooker miss the ones which described someone’s lunch.

Blogger Andy Ostroy hates social network sites like Facebook and Twitter, even though he uses them. He thinks they make people phony

WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben reports.


“It allows people to say ‘I have a thousand friends’ and the truth is you don’t have a thousand friends. Try calling them at two in the morning when you need something,” he said.

Many people are having similar reactions to what they see online. It’s causing a syndrome called “Social Compensation.”

Psychology professor Joanna Davilla, PH.D explained this phenomenon: “Who’s married? Who’s having children?

Who’s doing well in their career? When you see people having things you don’t, or that you have and are not going as well, it can make you feel worse, and much more likely to be depressed.”

Several studies now suggest that the virtual world may leave many of us feeling more isolated, and even sad.
Davilla said this is particularly true for younger people who can have a tougher time keeping all these rosy posts in context.

“One of the things we are finding is that there are people who are at a greater risk to the negative interactions,” said Davilla.

Psychologists say the first line of defense is to not believe everything you read online. Second, don’t get wrapped up in the number of friends you have.

Also, avoid focusing on the accomplishments of old rivals. Finally, remember the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the screen.

Davilla added that sometimes it’s good to step away and get some perspective.

Even if people aren’t always thrilled with them, these sites continue to grow. There are now about 800 million users of Facebook and Myspace worldwide.

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