Absence of Feedback on Facebook Can Lead to Loneliness

By Shawn Dwyer 05/16/14

Researchers in Australia determined that even the mere absence from Facebook can drive feelings of isolation and low self worth.

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A new research study conducted by the School of Psychology at the University of Queensland and published in the journal Social Influence found that the fewer likes a person received on Facebook, the more likely that person would have feelings of loneliness and low self worth.

While other studies have examined how social media platforms like Facebook can lead to obesity, deteriorating sex lives, and social isolation, this new study looked at how even the mere absence of Facebook in one’s life could lead to “lower levels of belonging and meaningful existence.”

Researchers conducted the study using 79 students from the University of Queensland and either allowed or did not allow them to share information on Facebook for 48 hours. Those who were not allowed to share during the time period experienced more negative feelings. They also set up some profiles so that they would not receive any feedback from their interactions, which made those participants feel “snubbed” and “invisible.”

“Together, these findings indicate that a lack of information sharing and feedback can threaten belonging needs,” the researchers wrote.

Another study conducted by Australia’s Charles Stuart University and published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior found that those who experience feelings of loneliness and isolation are more likely to share personal information than more “connected” users. They found that 79 percent of lonely people publicly shared personal information, while 64 percent of those identified as “connected” shared such information.

‟It makes sense that people who felt lonely would disclose personal information, relationship information and address,” said researchers Yeslam Al-Saggaf and Sharon Nielsen. ‟They choose to disclose information about themselves that encourages others to approach them since they want to make it easy for others to initiate contact with them, which…may help them overcome their feelings of loneliness.”

Krystine Batcho, a professor of psychology at Lemoyne College, recently discussed with CBS DC the so-called distancing phenomena that occurs among those who allow social media to determine their sense of self.

“Overall we’ve benefited greatly from social media as a society,” Batcho said. “But I think there are a lot of fears of what’s happening that we’ve made interactions with other people too impersonal and a distancing phenomena is taking place.”

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Shawn Dwyer is a writer, editor and content producer living in Los Angeles. You can find him on Linkedin.