April 24, 2017, 9:20 pm
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Depression, negativity results from social media jealousy

Browsing through her Facebook page, Tina sees Julia’s posts of her latest iPhone 7. Tina is immediately jealous, as her late model smartphone, already acting up because of age and use. And she won’t be able to replace it anytime soon. She just left her call center job two weeks earlier and has not found a new job yet. 

Roger saw a Tweet from his ex-girlfriend, who has found a new love just two months after they broke up. This new foreigner boyfriend gives her an engagement ring which she boasts of online. The post depresses Roger so much, he goes into a drinking binge.

Soxie’s dog dies and she posts her grief online. Everyone send their condolences, except Angie who sent an angry face emoji and said “Finally! That smelly dog died.” Soxie fell into deeper sadness.

Social media started life as a way of staying in touch with friends and sharing happy memories. Now it could be a primary source of negativity and depression, as indicated by the results of a study commissioned by Kaspersky Lab and conducted online by research firm Toluna from October - November, 2016. 

Social media and general Internet users from 18 countries, the Philippines included, were surveyed online. A total of 16,750 people, aged over 16 years old, split equally between men and women, were surveyed. Data was weighted to be globally representative and consistent. 1,000 respondents from the Philippines gave their opinions in the survey.

Clearly the Kaspersky study had brought to surface various frustrations with social media. The main culprit for the negativity has to do with the “hunt for likes.” General approval from friends and followers play a central role in this hunt. Those who compare how others like or share their posts of photos are the major cause of anxiety, with the majority of people feeling down or upset when they don’t get as many likes as they expect for a post. Of those surveyed, 42 percent say they feel jealous when their friends get more likes than them. 

“Our relationship with social media has developed into a vicious cycle. We want to go onto our favourite social platforms to tell all of our connections about the positive things we are doing – that makes us feel good”, says Evgeny Chereshnev, head of Social Media at Kaspersky Lab.

The research also shows that people feel envious when they see the seemingly happier lives of their friends on social media. Some possible common issues involve couples seeing partners seemingly “happier” with friends or even relatives. People are affected by friends being “better off” by having better houses, cars, watches and devices than they do. Or even having better looking partners are seemingly shallow reasons for negativity. 

For example, 59 percent have felt unhappy when they have seen friends’ posts from a party they were not invited to, and 45 percent revealed that their friends’ happy holiday pictures have had a negative influence on them. Furthermore, 37 percent also admitted that looking at past happy posts of their own can leave them with the feeling that their own past was better than their present life.

As people often experience negative emotions after spending time on social media due to these reasons, the anxiety overpowers the positive effects of social media. 

The survey reveals users habitually visit social media for positive, feel good reasons. Most people (65 percent) use social networks to stay in touch with friends and colleagues and to see entertaining and funny posts (60 percent). 

People also devote a significant amount of time to creating their digital profile and filling it with all kinds of positive moments, posting things that make them smile (61 percent), and telling their networks about the great time they are having during holidays and vacations (43 percent). 

While it is not surprising that 72 percent of people are annoyed by advertising that has become extremely intrusive and interrupts their online communications, the reasons for frustration go deeper. 

Despite the desire to feel good from their interactions on social media, when people see their friends’ happy posts about holidays, hobbies, and parties, they are often left with the bitter feeling that other people are enjoying life more than them. 

Why Filipinos Use Social Media 

Answers from the 1,000 survey respondents from the Philippines revealed a great majority (76.7 percent) of Filipino netizens use social media to keep themselves updated with the latest news and current events. 

Ironically, almost three out of 10 (27.7 percent) social media users admitted seeing news about politics, economy and foreign countries makes them sad.

Aside from being a news source, Filipinos (76 percent) also  consider social platforms like Facebook and Twitter as tools in keeping in touch with their families, friends and colleagues.

Depression Triggers for Filipinos 

In terms of how social media affects their mood, the survey showed 29 percent of the Filipino respondents felt very low when someone else got control of their profiles, when someone seems to have a better life than them (27.7 percent) and when a friend’s photo or status update received more likes than their own (25.8 percent).

Some 27.7 percent of the respondents also confessed seeing their friend’s photos during parties they are not invited to results to feeling down.  27.7 percent Filipino social media users also said they felt sad when someone trolls them or their community.

Previous research has also demonstrated people’s’ frustration with social media as 78 percent admitted that they have considered leaving social networks altogether. The only thing that makes people stay on social media is the fear of losing their digital memories, such as photos, and contacts with their friends. 

While keeping in touch with friends may be a difficult problem to solve, Kaspersky Lab is working on a solution to help people save their digital memories.  

“The reality is that everyone is doing the same thing, so when we log onto social media we’re bombarded with images and posts of our friends having fun. And it looks like they’re enjoying life more than us. It’s easy to see why this is leaving people feeling down and why so many people have considered leaving social media altogether. The difficulty is that people feel trapped because so many of their precious memories have been stored on social media and they don’t want to lose access to these.” 

To help people decide more freely if they want to stay in social media or leave without losing their digital memories, Kaspersky Lab is developing a new app – FFForget will allow people to back up all of their memories from the social networks they use and keep them in a safe, encrypted memory container and will give people the freedom to leave any network whenever they want, without losing what belongs to them – their digital lives. FFForget is planned for 2017. Interested users can register at ffforget.kaspersky.com to get updates and insights, provide feedback and get early access.
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