(NaturalNews) People who regularly engage in the unrealistic and egomaniacal world of social media behemoth Facebook could be making themselves sick, at least mentally. A comprehensive report on the long-term health effects of using Facebook has found that many of the site's users, and particularly those that use it "passively," are far more prone to develop unhealthy feelings of envy, loneliness and all-around misery compared to those who spend most of their time living in the real world.
The report builds upon previous research that has already identified a link between excess Facebook usage and mental conditions such as depression, adding that regular usage of the site can, indeed, alter some people's perceptions of reality, making them feel as though everyone else's life is far more interesting and exciting than their own. As it turns out, each time a chronic Facebook user visits the site, feelings of despair and misery tend to become progressively worse, according to the research, perpetuating feelings of dissatisfaction with their own life.
"We were surprised by how many people have a negative experience from Facebook with envy leaving them feeling lonely, frustrated or angry," explained researcher Hanna Krasnova from the Institute of Information Systems at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany, to Reuters. "From our observations some of these people will then leave Facebook or at least reduce their use of the site."
Krasnova and her colleagues published these and other disturbing findings in a new report entitled, Envy on Facebook: A Hidden Threat to Users' Life Satisfaction?, which is sure to send shock waves throughout today's technologically-driven society. And even though the research involved participants strictly from Germany, the team believes the findings are universal, as human beings tend to exhibit similar behaviors when repeatedly presented with what appear to be the "perfect" lives of their friends and families through social media.
"Passive following triggers invidious emotions, with users mainly envying happiness of others, the way others spend their vacations and socialize," added the researchers in their report, referencing how hand-selected and mostly favorable snippets of other people's lives shared via social media can produce envy in viewers. "The spread and ubiquitous presence of envy on Social Networking Sites is shown to undermine users' life satisfaction."
Researchers found that women are more likely to envy the physical attractiveness of others as they present themselves through social media, while both men and women in their 30s tend to envy the "family happiness" of others in their own age group. Men, in general, were also found to be more likely to promote themselves and their accomplishments on Facebook, giving the appearance that they are highly successful, whether or not it is actually true.