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Be warned: Not being yourself on Facebook can cause stress, anxiety

Since it is easy to effectively hide your real selves on social media, more often than not people are tempted to project personalities that are in no way related to their original identities. If you are also guilty of doing this, be warned, as you may experience social alienation and soon fall prey to high stress, anxiety and depression.

sex and relationships Updated: Aug 22, 2016 16:58 IST
The more your ‘Facebook self’ differs from your true self, the greater your stress level and the less socially connected you’ll tend to be, say researchers.
The more your ‘Facebook self’ differs from your true self, the greater your stress level and the less socially connected you’ll tend to be, say researchers.(Shutterstock)

Since it is easy to effectively hide your real selves on social media, more often than not people are tempted to project personalities that are in no way related to their original identities. If you are also guilty of doing this, be warned, as you may experience social alienation and soon fall prey to high stress, anxiety and depression.

According to the researchers, the more one’s ‘Facebook self’ differs from their true self, the greater their stress level and less socially connected they tend to be.

“Less emotional labour is required to present oneself authentically on Facebook; therefore it results in less stress,” said Rachel Grieve and Jarrah Watkinson from the University of Tasmania in Hobart, Australia.

Read: Personal interaction is still in vogue despite the social media craze

Moreover, the authentic self-presentation on Facebook can lead to positive psychological outcomes, including higher self-esteem and subjective well-being, greater psychological well-being, and lower negative affect.

Conversely, individuals who are unable to express their true self are more likely to have poorer mental health.

“However, at the same time emotions such as anxiety, depression, and life satisfaction didn’t show an association with authentic self-presentation on Facebook,” the study noted.

For the study, the team put 164 participants ranging in age 18-55 through a series of personality questionnaires.

The first test measured the participants’ humility, emotionality, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness.

The second test measured these same qualities and participants were only asked questions about the way they presented themselves on Facebook.

They also filled out questionnaires that measured anxiety, depression, subjective well-being, and their sense of social connectedness.

The larger the gap between participants’ “true” selves and their Facebook selves, the less socially connected they felt and the more stressed they were.

Read: Active on Tinder? Your self-esteem could be taking a massive hit

“Perhaps Facebook users who are less stressed, or who experience greater social connectedness, feel more comfortable expressing their authentic self online,” the team pointed out.

“As of the second quarter of 2016, active Facebook users totalled 1.71 billion. As such, we must consider how Facebook may serve as a tool to positively impact our patients’ lives,” said Brenda K. Wiederhold from Virtual Reality Medical Institute in Brussels, Belgium.

“It might be fruitful to consider the potential utility of Facebook in reducing stress and enhancing social connectedness,” said the paper published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.

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