Are you a passive user of Facebook? That is someone who likes to read the posts of others and scroll through their photos without much of a comment or ‘like’?
You may think you’re making a statement by not joining in the superficial cyber nonsense, memes and invitations for flattering comments. But research suggests that you may also be making yourself miserable.
Research shows that passive users of Facebook report a decline in their wellbeing after viewing the Facebook pages of their friends.
In one experiment participants were required to view the Facebook pages of their friends but to refrain from actively posting comments (passive users). Another group of participants were instructed to actively post comments (active users).
Participants also rated their wellbeing on an online survey when they returned home in the evening. Interestingly, the passive participants reported a nine per cent decline in their wellbeing.
Active posters did not report a decline.
A follow-up study had participants rate their Facebook use over several days and, again, their feelings of wellbeing at regular intervals. As before, participants who reported more passive daily use of Facebook also reported a decline in wellbeing.
But, importantly, passive participants also reported greater feelings of envy, which appeared to be the main reason they felt flat.
Every day millions of people regularly use Facebook, which may be actively contributing to feelings of dissatisfaction.
It may be tempting to blame the evils of social media but perhaps it merely reinforces some common sense. Being a passive spectator in life may make you miserable.