As we connect ever more online, researchers wonder about the links between mood states and our status updates -- loneliness and anxiety driving much of social media traffic.

A doctoral student from the Missouri School of Journalism says anxiety and alcohol consumption may predict feelings of emotional connectedness to Facebook, as opposed to mere use of a social media site with nearly one billion collaborators. Russel Clayton's Master's thesis appears in the May issue of Computers in Human Behavior, wherein he reports surveying 225 college freshmen -- a popular study demographic among graduate students -- about anxiety and loneliness, alcohol and marijuana use.

Clayton found that freshmen reporting higher levels of anxiety and alcohol consumption also said they felt more connected emotionally to Facebook, acknowledging the power of the medium to sway their emotions, one status update and shared photo at a time. Conversely, those reporting higher levels of loneliness and, separately, higher rates of marijuana consumption, said they they felt less connected emotionally to Facebook.

Clayton said lonelier freshmen simply turned to the social media site to alleviate social boredom, without terrific emotional import. "Also, when people who are emotionally connected to Facebook view pictures and statuses of their Facebook friends using alcohol, they are more motivated to engage in similar online behaviors in order to fit in socially."

However, the consumption of marijuana is a different story. "Marijuana use is less normative, meaning fewer people post on Facebook about using it," he said. "In turn, people who engage in marijuana use are less likely to be emotionally attached to Facebook."

Which leaves the field of journalism now to consider the nature of these associations: whether anxiety and alcohol cause such heightened emotionality with regard to Facebook or the obverse -- or maybe nothing at all.