Feeling Down? Find Someone Worse Off on Facebook

Admit it.

When you've had a bad day, don't you want to go on Facebook and see that your work friend's car slid off the driveway in the ice storm and smashed into a tree?  Or your college pal's getting a divorce?  Or the neighbor who never waves back has her windows shaving-creamed on Halloween.

OK, so maybe you have friends like I do, who only post wedding anniversaries in the Caribbean (we had our 20th at Kozi's) or children who get 1600s on their SATs. 

But a new study says, if you're in a bad mood, chances are your best bet is to head to Facebook and find someone else who's worse off, according to newswise.com.

When people are in a bad mood, they are more likely to actively search social networking sites like Facebook to find friends who are doing even worse than they are, the study suggests.

Researchers found that, in general, people use social media to connect with people who are posting positive and success-oriented updates.

“But when people are in a negative mood, they start to show more interest in the less attractive, less successful people on their social media sites,” said Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, co-author of the study and professor of communication at The Ohio State University.

“Generally, most of us look for the positive on social media site," said Benjamin Johnson, co-author of the study, recently a doctoral student in communication at Ohio State and now an assistant professor at VU University Amsterdam.  "But if you’re feeling vulnerable, you’ll look for people on Facebook who are having a bad day or who aren’t as good at presenting themselves positively, just to make yourself feel better.”

I can't say how many times I've felt worse looking at all the parties and dinners out and kids scoring touchdowns, when we pretty much stay at home all the time and I'm lucky if my kid kicks a soccer ball around a couple times a week.

Overall, researchers found that people tended to spend more time on the profiles of people who were rated as successful and attractive on social media.

But participants who had been put in a negative mood spent significantly more time than others browsing the profiles of people who had been rated as unsuccessful and unattractive.

“If you need a self-esteem boost, you’re going to look at people worse off than you,” Knobloch-Westerwick said. “You’re probably not going to be looking at the people who just got a great new job or just got married. One of the great appeals of social network sites is that they allow people to manage their moods by choosing who they want to compare themselves to.”

Well said.


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