ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A recent study suggests that people often compare their lives to what friends and family post on social media, and it may lead to cases of depression.
When researches started looking at social comparison being acted out on Facebook, they found the impact it has on psychological health isn’t always healthy.
“I think a lot of it is how you present yourself and how other people present themselves, and that lends itself to comparison,” University at Albany psychology professor Julia Hormes said.
Dr. Hormes said most people likely to be depressed from Facebook struggle with self-confidence.
“Have a really hard time dealing with negative emotions; they have a lot more problems with impulse control,” she said.
The study from the University of Houston suggests that people get depressed on Facebook after seeing all their friends’ and family’s posts, which tend to be a highlight reel of their lives, making the viewer depressed that their life isn’t as great.
“And this just kind of gets used as another medium to compare ourselves to other people more effectively because we find out a lot more about others,” Dr. Hormes said.
Dr. Hormes believes the inability for some to stop comparing their lives with others on Facebook and hoping for the most ‘likes’ could be a sign of a larger negative social problem.
“Facebook might sort of be a way for people to cope with these negative emotions,” she said.
In addition, because many are on the social media site non-stop for work and pleasure, stopping yourself or your loved one from comparing their life to Facebook is easier said than done.
“It’s hard to say just stop altogether, but it really becomes about normalizing the behavior, and I think we still have to figure out how we’re actually going to do that,” she said.
Because psychologists have just begun to exclusively study social comparison related to Facebook and social sites, knowing how to identify and help people is yet to really be understood. But professionals offer advice to limit how often and long you spend on social media sites.