A study by the University of British Columbia says jealousy and self-importance drives Facebook users to portray their best selves through their posts.
Researchers say this cycle of comparison with others leads to a decrease in metal well-being.
“Social media participation has been linked to depression, anxiety and narcissistic behaviour, but the reasons haven’t been well-explained,” says Sauder School of Business Professor Izak Benbasat. “We found envy to be the missing link.”
According to Benbasat, travel photos cause the most Facebook envy, pushing friends to posts their best pictures. He says the posts aren’t fueled by the need to compete, but rather the need to keep up appearances.
Benbasat and his team of collaborators from the Sauder School of Business led the study. The team surveyed about 1,000 Facebook users from a German university then asked the students a series of questions about their Facebook habits – cross-referencing their responses with the feelings they reported when using the site.
“Sharing pictures and stories about the highlights of your life – that’s so much of what Facebook is for, so you can’t take that away… but I think it’s important for people to know what impact it can have on their well-being,” says Benbasat.