Study: Social Media Making People Anti-Social, Jealous

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Could social media be making people more anti-social?

Many people who use social media may go to desperate lengths to receive “likes” from followers, the study found.

The social media boom continues to make it easier than ever to stay in touch with loved ones in real time. But with the flourishing of new technology and the ability to be connected to anyone and everyone at any time, real-life human interactions could be suffering a heavy blow.

A recent global study conducted by Kasperksy Lab reveals that social media users are interacting less face-to-face than in the past because of this newfound ability to constantly communicate and stay in touch online. In the study, researchers found that about one-third of people communicate less with their parents (31%), partners (23%), children (33%) and friends (35%) because they can simply follow them on social media. This may be doing more harm than good, in a world where editing one’s life to make it appear perfect is more appealing than naturally existing.

“Under certain circumstances they perceive their online communication as ‘hyper-personal communication’ and thus they can misread and over-interpret the messages on social media,” said Dr. Astrid Carolus, Media Psychologist at the University of Würzburg. “We feel especially close, we blind out the rather negative, focus on the possible positive intentions behind a message, and over-interpret.” 

The study was conducted between October and November of last year among 16,750 participants, split evenly between men and women at least 16 years old from 18 countries, each of whom was surveyed online.

Participants were surveyed on the types of items they post on social media and the types of posts from others that have positive or negative influences on their moods. They were also asked about things they might do if meant obtaining more “likes” from their followers, including such things as posting salacious photos of friends or co-workers, or revealing sensitive information about someone else.

Many participants made it clear that social media made them jealous of others. Nearly 60% of the participants viewed a friend as having a better life than their own simply by seeing that friend’s social media activity, and almost half were upset after viewing photos from a friend’s happy holiday celebration.

The study also found that “people go on social media to feel better.” Half of the participants reported using the outlets as a means to post optimistic things, and 61% said they go on to post things that make them smile.

Researchers ultimately found that many people will go to harmful lengths simply to win “likes” from followers. “This study has shown us that in order to generate more likes and feel better about the time they spend on social media, people are being tempted into sharing more information; potentially putting themselves and the people they care about at risk,” the authors concluded.

Among the findings:

  • 61% of the participants felt worse after finding out someone “unfriended” them, and 59% were upset after someone posted a negative or critical comment on their profile
  • 57% said after going on social media they’ve felt that someone they follow has a better life than they do
  • 59% felt sad after seeing photos from a party they didn’t attend posted on social media and 45% were unhappy after seeing photos from a friend’s happy holiday outing
  • 58% were angered by a photo a friend posted of them online that they didn’t want made public
  • 54% felt upset when no one liked or commented on a photo they posted
  • 42% were jealous when they saw a friend had more likes or comments than they did on a status update
  • Just 31% of people aren’t bothered by the number of likes they receive on a post
  • 24% of men said they worry that if they get few like, their friends will think that they are unpopular, compared to one-in-six (17%) women
  • To get more likes, 32% of men said they’d post something funny about a friend, compared to 21% of women

What do you think about this study? Do you notice social media taking a toll in your relationships?