Woe is the person who sits on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks all day. It takes a special kind of person — one who’s not a social media manager — to spend so much of their time on these sites, constantly sharing posts, updating their statuses, and commenting. Unfortunately, these types of people are also the most likely to be lonely and possibly depressed, according to a new study from Charles Sturt University in New South Wales.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that someone who wants to make a personal connection with others would share their information. The study looked at data on over 600 women, of whom half said they were lonely. These women were also the most likely to share relationship statuses with people other than their friends, as well as personal information like their addresses. “It makes sense that people who felt lonely would disclose this type of information,” said study co-author Yeslam Al-Saggaf, and associate professor at the university, according to The Wall Street Journal. “They want to make it easier for others to initiate contact with them, which may help them overcome their feelings of loneliness.”
Though the research didn’t put the blame on Facebook for causing the loneliness, other studies have shown that Facebook can have that effect on people. In part, it’s due to the lack of actual problems being posted, and the oversharing of statuses and photos that portray a life of happiness and extravagant events. For those who are lonely, these problems can become worse if they’re ignored, according to a study from earlier this month, which found that it can cause people to devalue themselves. Meanwhile, another study found that, for women, the desire to get likes on photos may lead to eating disorders.
While the hope to reach out through social media may sometimes be reciprocated, especially in circumstances where a person’s loneliness is manifesting in desperate status updates, that same connection is difficult to come by in a real-life encounter.
“For the most part, I feel Facebook is a lonely experience,” Rich DeNagel, a former high-school teacher, told The Journal. “You don’t often see people putting out that they’re going through a hard time. There’s a lot of social pressure to show that everything’s great. It’s a never-ending quest to be interesting and intellectual and unique, and strive to prove something to the world. You can’t just be yourself.”
Source: Al-Saggaf Y, Nielsen S. Self-disclosure on Facebook among female users and its relationship to feelings of loneliness. Computers in Human Behavior. 2014.