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Facebook is making you sad? It’s probably because your friends are traveling

Posted July 25, 2018

You probably already know this, but social networks make us feel bad. We consciously know that the world in the screen is not real. People are only uploading those pictures and those stories that make them look good. But even genuine photos can make us blue, as this new research from the Universities of Edinburgh, Exeter and Falmouth, and Stockholm School of Economics has shown, especially when it is other people’s holiday snaps.

Seeing other people’s holiday pics makes us feel like we are missing out. Image credit: Shamil Khakirov via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Social networks are actually not meant to make us feel good. They are meant to capture our attention for as long as possible so that we would see a lot of advertising. However, people upload pictures of themselves wishing to form an opinion about themselves or even to inspire their friends. A new survey done on Facebook revealed that as many as 90 % of users start feeling low after seeing travel posts from their friends. Interestingly, people react differently to these feelings depending on their age.

Older Facebook users born before 1980 use this feeling as a motivation. They understand that they are envying the joy of travelling. So they use this opportunity to book a holiday and go make some posts themselves. Meanwhile younger people born after 1980 react completely differently. Instead of looking for a way to travel they cut down on Facebook and go on a digital detox. They also do other things that make them happy. For example, they look at their own holiday pictures from the past or go do some online shopping. Study included 800 Facebook users aged from 18 to 70 years old. They were surveyed online and through phone interviews. This is quite a big group of people, but it is still interesting how an age division was so evident in this case.

Of course, this feeling is closely related to envy. Women are envious of time spent with friends and family. Older people are envious of the ability to travel. People are simply feeling that they are missing out and unable to travel. This, of course, negatively affects their mental health and serves as another good example how comparing your life to others can be harmful to you. Dr Ben Marder, lead researcher of the study, said: “These findings help us understand the emotional and behavioural outcomes of viewing travel posts. They show how those somewhat idyllic posts by friends on social media are likely to make us feel sad in our own lives and take measures to make us feel happier”.

Sometimes it is good to distance yourself from social media. You are doing great, whatever you are doing. If you wish you could go on a holiday, make it a plan and not just a dream.


Source: University of Edinburgh

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