Facebook usage can make people feel more self-confident, but a study from the University of Edinburgh Business School shows that it can also lead to higher levels of stress, as users add more people. The simple reason is that as more people are added to a user’s social circle — friends, relatives, co-workers, classmates — there’s more of a chance for embarrassment or some other kind of faux pas.
The study gauged the feelings of more than 300 Facebook users, with an average age of 21. Researchers found that roughly 55 percent of parents follow their kids on Facebook. Additionally, more than one-half of employers claim to have not hired someone based on content posted on Facebook.
The study found that people tend to have seven different social circles on Facebook: friends known offline (97 percent added them as friends online), extended family (81 percent), siblings (80 percent), friends of friends (69 percent), and colleagues (65 percent). Oddly enough, 64 percent of the people said they were still Facebook friends with their exes, compared with 56 percent who said they were friends with their current significant other.
When users post content that may be acceptable to one social circle but not another (for example, college buddies might like a photo of you at a wild party, but don’t expect grandma or your supervisor to do the same), it raises the stress level as people try to present a palatable Facebook persona to all friends.
Ben Marder, author of the report, detailed in a press release why more stress comes with a higher friend count:
Facebook used to be like a great party for all your friends where you can dance, drink, and flirt. But now with your mum, dad, and boss there, the party becomes an anxious event full of potential social landmines.
Readers: Do you feel more stress posting to Facebook now?
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