When you log in to Facebook and see all your friends having a great time can you really believe what you see? Perhaps you should not. Recent studies from Stanford University suggest that people
consistently underestimate how often other people have negative emotions, while overestimating how often they have positive ones.
The Stanford studies consisted of five experiments that analyzed how students view their life experiences in comparison with those of their peers. The studies did not specifically examine how people portray their lives on Facebook, but the results do provide a window into the roots of so-called “Facebook envy.” The first study, of 63 college freshmen, showed that 40% of them concealed negative emotions. In the second experiment, new freshmen were asked about their impressions of their peers’ good and bad experiences; this group was found to overestimate the good times by 6% and underestimate the negative times by 17%. In a third experiment, the new students felt worse when they thought that their peers were having more fun than them.
Reporting on the studies, Time magazine concludes
that your extra efforts at ‘image management’ probably worsens feelings of isolation and distress in your friends, by adding to their impression that yours and others’ lives are happier and more successful than theirs.
Facebook is great for keeping in touch with far-reaching friends and for sharing photos. However, these studies also suggest that frozen smiles in snapshots shouldn’t be taken as the sum total of your friend’s life experiences. The best thing you can do is learn to be a good friend. Don’t forget to accept each other, faults and all.
1. Make time for friendships
2. Remember: a true friend doesn’t flee when changes occur.
3. Make sure you aren’t being a burden to a friend.
4. Be a good listener.
5. Be in your friend’s corner if he or she’s not there to defend him or herself.
Note: Nowhere in this list does it require you to poke, tag, or like anything.
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