Miserable? Don't take it out on Facebook, experts say. Photo: AFP
Facebook can help you accumulate hundreds of instant friends, but people with low self-esteem should limit their woeful comments or risk losing their cyber pals, a study reports.
While the social media site is a convenient outlet to share feelings and maintain friendships, researchers have found people who had a poor opinion of themselves were more likely to post negative messages that irritated their existing online friends and alienated themselves further.
As part of their study, Canadian psychologists Amanda Forest and Joanne Wood asked a group of university students what they thought of Facebook, a website that has revolutionised social media and has more than 800 million members worldwide.
They found students with low self-esteem believed the social networking site was a safer place to make and maintain friendships because it reduced the risk of awkward social situations.
The psychologists, from the University of Waterloo, then interviewed another group of students about what they wrote on their profile, which were rated by other students on how positive or negative the comments were.
Finally, the researchers measured how both strangers and friends felt toward the individuals who posted comments in the previous study.
They found people who wrote upbeat posts such as ''[Name] is lucky to have such terrific friends and is looking forward to a great day tomorrow!" were judged more likeable than people who constantly wrote negative messages, such as "[Name] is upset b/c her phone got stolen :@."
Ms Forest, the lead author of the study, said Facebook provided an ideal opportunity for social connection and could be particularly useful for people who found in-person interactions awkward or intimidating, but it was how the site was used that mattered.
"If you're talking to somebody in person and you say something, you might get some indication that they don't like it, that they're sick of hearing your negativity," Ms Forest, whose findings are published in the journal Psychological Science, said.
"On Facebook, you don't see most of the reactions."
While Ms Forest said they had not yet investigated whether people took any action against their negative friends' comments - by 'de-friending' them or posting a response - she suggested that users should put more thought into what they post, and what effect their posts might have on members of their social networks.
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