Facebook and other social utilities change the way we communicate with each other. We are able to chat faster, with less effort and with more people than ever before. We now keep track of hundreds of people on a daily basis. In my project I will explore how these excess relationships affect our lives. What are the ramifications of replacing one-on-one human interaction with technological devices?
An article I found recently in the Stanford Daily, written by undergraduate Jenny Thai, will be extremely useful as I continue to explore this topic. It discusses a study that was conducted by Stanford psychologists Carol Dweck and James Gross. Their research found that when looking at friends’ facebook profiles, people became depressed, thinking their peers were leading happier, more fulfilled lives. This distortion of reality is imperative in our understanding of how relationships have evolved differently with the advent of social networking.
The article discusses how “loneliness has a positive correlation with the underestimation of the unhappiness of others.” This is a concept that I have experienced myself, but it was strange to hear about it from a scientific perspective. Most people I have discussed with so far, regarding this concept have said they have felt similar feelings when looking online at others’ profiles. This article has helped pinpoint the reasoning behind these emotions. Most people want to create a facebook identity that seems to be having fun all the time. Lonely and depressed moments aren’t shared and then followers believe that the person being viewed is happier than they are in actuality.
One part of the news story I found particularly fascinating was the idea that even roommates and extremely close friends overestimated each other’s level of happiness. This seems strange because I would assume that living with someone or talking to them on a daily basis would be more powerful than whatever was being viewed online. This shows to me how this problem is so mainstream and large in its scope.
I am looking forward to learning more about this particular study and perhaps even trying to get an interview with some of the psychologists involved!