“This traffic is soooo bad. FML.” “THIS would only happen to me.” “Really, rain? Can’t I catch a break!!!!! FML.” We all have Facebook friends that use the site as a platform to air every single grievance that they experience in a single day— I really mean, every-single-grievance. From the alarm not going off (aren’t you just delaying your morning further by stopping to tell Facebook?) to the clouds naturally expelling raindrops, my news feed is constantly filled with the mundane complaints of my friends. I am stunned to read such trivial complaints from my educated, privileged Facebook friends. According to a new study, complaining on Facebook will actually make your friends like you less.
A new study from Canada’s University of Waterloo explored the role of Facebook in the lives of people with low self-esteem. When asked, people with low self-esteem were more likely to believe that Facebook provided a platform to connect with other people, viewing it as a safe place that reduces the risk of awkward social situations. People with low self-esteem were found more likely to post negative, complaining status updates, which were not received well by viewers.
Researchers asked a group of students for their last 10 status updates, sentences like, “[Name] is lucky to have such terrific friends and is looking forward to a great day tomorrow!” and “[Name] is upset b/c her phone got stolen :@.” Each set of status updates was rated for how positive or negative it was by an undergraduate Facebook user who did not know who wrote the status. Research found that the more negative someone appeared to be on Facebook, the less like-able they were.
People with low self-esteem who produce negative status updates may feel safe revealing their personal grievances on Facebook, but they may be harming themselves at the same time. Amanda Forest, a graduate student at the University of Waterloo who co wrote the new study with her advisor concludes:”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…On Facebook, you don’t see most of the reactions.”
So think twice next time you want to complain about the traffic, the weather, or people in general. Your friends may not take your complaining as a relateable topic, but rather an annoyance.
Are you annoyed by complaining status updates? Do you complain on Facebook?