How are you today? Bright and breezy and happy with your lot? Well, if you are smiling, positive and generally feeling good about yourself the chances are you have just had a quick peek at your Facebook Wall. According to research from Cornell University people who look at their Facebook Wall tend to have higher self-esteem than the people who do not look at one. In other words, having a Facebook Wall makes people happier with themselves.
In fact, what the study found was that almost all Facebook Walls say entirely positive things about the individual. The comments and the additions made by friends tend to be pretty good. In addition, the owner of the Facebook Wall is usually selective about what they add to their own profile, which means they only represent themselves in a positive light. The result is that when you look at your Facebook Wall, all you see is positive stuff. Unlike a real mirror, which does reflect you warts and all, the mirror the Facebook Wall presents is skewed. It simply reaffirms how wonderful you are, thereby boosting your self-esteem.
Naturally enough, however, it is never as simple as it seems. Another recent research study from West Virginia University suggests that Facebook can make people more lonely. The researchers discovered that students who use the telephone to connect with their parents are happier and less lonely than the students who use Facebook to connect with their loved ones back home. What this implies is that Facebook can lead to loneliness and low self-esteem if the other people we connect with don’t use it well. Many parents can much more easily use the phone than Facebook. They feel more comfortable using familiar technology. Those who are asked to use Facebook by their sons and daughters may be using this medium less well than their tried and trusted telephone. So it may not be Facebook that is the issue here – rather it is probably the parental users who are not familiar enough with the technology and therefore don’t use it in ways which would make their children feel better.
Taken together these two studies show one thing: if you learn to use Facebook well you will not only make yourself feel good, but you will also make your loved ones feel good too.