If You Constantly Gripe on Facebook, You're Probably Lonely IRL

woman logging into facebook on phoneWhat drives you to log in to Facebook a BILLION times a day? Is it to play a game? Brag about your kids' report cards? Complain that you had too many Christmas cookies yesterday? Your answer may give some surprising insight about your personality.

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New research out of the University of Akron's Wayne College shows that the more you use Facebook to fulfill your goals -- which, in the examples above, would be to kill time, feel like you're raising a great family, and either try to lose weight or convince your neighbors to stop giving you Christmas cookies already --- the more dependent on the social media juggernaut you become.

Dependency isn't the same as an addiction, FYI. But WHY you keep logging in and updating your FB page determines your dependency. And gives some insight into your personality, as well.

For instance:

If you share a lot of positive, uplifting, inspiring posts ...

You have high self-esteem. Are you one to share every last beach pic of your Puerto Vallarta vacay? You're telling the world that you've got confidence.

"Previous studies have found that those with high self-esteem are more optimistic and confident," explains Amber L. Ferris, PhD, an assistant professor of communications at Wayne College, who co-authored the study along with Erin Hollenbaugh, PhD, an assistant professor of communications at Kent State University at Stark. "Therefore," Ferris notes, "they may just have a brighter outlook on life in general, and ... post those optimistic, positive pieces of information on social media."

If you rely on Facebook friends for advice ...

You could have lower self-esteem. (Although an agreeable personality, according to the research!)

When you ask your FB buddies what you should do about your husband's workaholic tendencies or how to host a last-minute holiday dinner for 24, you're relying on their feedback to guide you. AND getting help to better understand yourself, Ferris's research shows.

If you "friend" people you don't know IRL ...

You're an extrovert. "Extroverts tend to be highly social," Ferris says. "Those who scored higher on an extroversion scale were more likely to feel that Facebook helped them to meet new friends."

More from The Stir: 10 Surefire Ways to Be That Obnoxious Facebook Friend

If you tend to post negative messages ...

You may be lonely. People who use social media to grouse about, well, everything fall into two categories, Ferris explains. "If you're a less reliable and diligent person who is more cooperative and helpful and uses Facebook to meet new people, you tend to post more negative information," she says.

By doing so, you're actually hoping to meet new people, surprisingly enough. Although walking up to a stranger and complaining that the flight attendant on your recent trip was a jerk sounds a little weird, apparently, it works just fine on Facebook.

Category #2 of those with complain-y tendencies (which is our term, not the researchers') are driven by a need to simply feel less lonely, Ferris says. So maybe when other people share how they've also had awful experiences with a certain airline, you feel all warm and cozy and brought into the fold.

Ferris's research didn't look at what it means when you lock down your account with privacy controls. But other studies have, and no surprise:

If you disclose very little information about yourself ...

You're an introvert. According to research out of the University of Alabama Huntsville, shy people spend the most time on FB, but share very little about themselves. (If you're an introvert, you're probably thinking, "Well, of course not. Why would I?!")

Regardless of which category you fall into, cutting back on FB in general might behoove you.

Plenty of recent research has indicated that using the social network can up stress levels, increase anxiety, and negatively affect how you view yourself.

So, maybe instead of posting a pic of your gorgeous holiday centerpiece or complaining how overpriced it was, you could just -- uh -- invite some real friends to actually come over and enjoy it face-to-face?

 

Image via Twin Design/Shutterstock

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