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Millions of people are turning to Facebook for socialization and becoming more unhappy. According to new research out of Stanford University, assuming you are alone in your unhappiness makes you even more depressed.
In the January issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, a report on a series of studies reveal that “Misery Has More Company Than People Think”, the title of the article. Alex Jordan, a Ph.D student in the Stanford psychology department found that people underestimated how dejected others were and ended up feeling more dejected as a result of this.  Jordan first noticed that some of his peers felt more down on themselves after logging onto Facebook and scrolling through others’ photographs, hyped up updates, and various accomplishment biographies. Apparently, his friends and colleagues were convinced others were leading a perfect life.

Four separate studies document this concept. In the first study evaluated, the participants reported that their negative emotions were hidden and private more so than their positive ones. In the second part of this study, these participants underestimated these common negative experiences. In a second study, people underestimated negative emotions and overestimated positive emotions even for their well-known friends.

Study three found that lower estimations of negative emotional experiences would predict greater loneliness and a lower life satisfaction. Also found was that higher estimations for positive emotions would predict lower life satisfactions.  When evaluated together, these studies find that people may think they are more alone in their emotional difficulties that they actually are. Bottom line, misery loves company.

In one of these studies, Jordan and his associates asked eighty freshmen questions about how they recently experienced negative and positive emotional events. These participants underestimated how many negative experiences their peers were having yet overestimated how much fun these same peers were having. Some experts believe that Facebook aggravates this natural tendency, too. According to some, people are misinformed of the others’ real life and see only the happy things. By viewing others’ joyful and witty lives, we tend to see ourselves as losers and have lower self-esteem because of the comparisons we make.

In Sherry Turkle’s book "Alone Together", she writes about how teenagers and young adults are faced with “presentation anxiety” regarding their online social networking sites. The book’s main theory is that technology actually makes us lonelier by preventing true intimacy. One teen told this MIT professor that Facebook “is like being in a play where you make up a character”.

Apparently, women are more susceptible to this false perceived happiness. Experts say that men use the site to share items that are related to current events and news where women tend to use it to engage in personal communication. This is thought to make it more difficult for women to avoid the comparisons that lead to personal suffering. According to Turkle, “we begin to feel overwhelmed and depleted by the lives technology makes possible”.

Why Facebook Makes You Miserable

Are Facebook users “fake” or do they project a true image of their current lives? Some experts would argue that while you can make things appear near perfect, the real lives of Facebook users are nothing like what they project them to be. Someone even started a group called “Fakebook”.

Basically, the picture of you smiling is just a snapshot of time, not the real you most of the time. So you must assume that the pictures you view of others are only snapshots of their lives, not the real life they live most of the time. Before you let Facebook bring you down, consider this: the grass is not always greener, everything that glitters is not gold, and no one has a perfect happy life all of the time.