With the introduction of social media and social networking sites, social comparison becomes inevitable.
“It’s important to recognize that most people tend to self-present on Facebook, so they put themselves in the best light and only post about the good things in their life rather than bad,” said Mai-Ly Steers, a doctoral student at the University of Houston and lead author of the study. “However if we don’t realize this is occurring and we try to compare ourselves, we’ll feel we don’t really measure up to our friends.”
For their study, the researchers looks at 154 people between the ages of 18 and 42. The participants use Facebook every day. After two weeks, the participants were given a questionnaire that assesses if they have symptoms of depression and the level of social comparison they have.
The result of their analysis revealed that people who use Facebook on a daily basis often evaluate themselves against their friends and often experience depressive symptoms. Among the depressive symptoms found were lack of hope for a better future, feelings of sadness and being irritated by mundane things. Such symptoms were common among college students, probably because they are still on the process of establishing their career and future.
The researchers added that regardless of the comparison (comparing one’s self to less fortunate), using Facebook regularly still pulls their moods down. The reason for this is because users were always comparing themselves to those who they considered to be like them or better than them.
“Perhaps individuals with low self-esteem might be engaging in downward social comparisons on Facebook in order to improve or bolster their self-worth; however, after doing so, they actually feel worse,” the study said.