Facebook’s increased presence in day-to-day social interaction may be causing its users to become more sad and lonely. In a study conducted by Stanford entitled “Misery Has More Company Than People Think,” college students consistently overestimated the happiness of others while making themselves feel more dejected in the process.
Alex Jordan, a Ph.D. student at Stanford, conducted a study which asked 80 freshmen to recall their own and their peers’ positive and negative emotional events. The study found that these freshmen overestimated positive experiences of their peers while underestimating the negative experiences of their peers.
Another Stanford study found students were not able to accurately gauge others’ happiness. This study found the more these students underestimated others’ negative emotions the more they tended to feel lonelier and dejected about their own negative emotions. Additionally, a study from the University of Haifa interviewed 248 girls aged 12 to 19 on their internet and television use.
In addition, the study queried the girls about body image, general outlook on eating, and their sense of personal empowerment. The study found a link from time spent on Facebook and the likelihood of those girls suffering from eating disorders.
These issues about Facebook’s role in societal well-being could become far more prominent as Facebook moves closer and closer to the long-anticipated IPO. Facebook has already drawn the attention of Goldman Sachs which invested $1.5B in the social networking giant earlier this month. With Facebook quickly growing to become the most dominant Internet portal, the scrutiny of the company will only increase.
Goldman Sachs is currently trading up 2% from Friday’s close at $164.83.
— Gary Cassady