Facebook’s toll on relationships

While it brings you closer to cyber friends, Facebook can cause a rift in a real-life relationship (Megan Cooke/AQ)
While it brings you closer to cyber friends, Facebook can cause a rift in a real-life relationship (Megan Cooke/AQ)

Jealousy is an ancient emotion but recently it’s running rampant, and we may have Facebook to thank.

“There is this unrelenting social comparison, Facebook breeds insecurity,” said St. Thomas University psychology professor Ian Nicholson.

A study was conducted by social scientists at Humboldt University in Berlin and Darmstadt’s Technical University. In a survey of 357 people, nearly one in five respondents said they last felt jealous while on Facebook – 29.6 per cent of those people felt envious of others.

That burning feeling you get when you see someone’s shiny new car, house, or killer sun tan from lying on a beach somewhere is jealousy, and the emotion seems to be exhibited mostly by young people through the constant need to impress others.

“It’s a generational phenomenon,” said Nicholson

And yet, Facebook has become an unavoidable but often necessary tool for some to stay connected.

“I’m from Colombia, but I started to move with my family since I was 12. So, Facebook is the only way I still know from all those friends from my childhood,” said Andrea Barcanas, a second-year student at St. Thomas University.

“Facebook has been a nightmare for me as well. I have a boyfriend back in Peru and as most Latin guys are, he firmly defends his territory. So, that leads to jealousy and in several cases we have had silly fights because of pictures or messages on Facebook,” said Bárcenas.

While Bárcenas realizes these problems between couples are nothing new, she does think they are displayed more publicly now with the rise of social media.

Romantic relationships are becoming even harder to maintain and develop with the constant pressure to become “Facebook official.”

“Seems like there is a lot of pressure to put that [relationship status] on Facebook,” said Nicholson, “but with so many people dating while in university, it makes ending a relationship that much more difficult,”

But he believes there are worse things than jealousy and envy plaguing the current generation.

“There is a difference between you physically, and you online,” something that is ruining the reputations of young people.

The way users post to the Internet without thinking can have some serious repercussions that extend much further than feelings of jealousy.

“A person has a proven capacity, good student, good grades, but has an over-the-top online persona,” Nicholson says.

While the persona may impress a university student’s friends, it might hinder them once they’re ready to join the workforce.

“You give up an awful lot of control with things like Facebook and especially Twitter.”

Facebook has left our generation with seemingly no sober judgment when it comes to what we choose to share with the world.

“Facebook allows a level of access to people’s lives that amplifies social comparisons,” says Nicholson.

It has become increasingly common for employers to ‘creep’ prospective employees before hiring them; most of those prospects are students.

“There is brief lapse of judgment that reverberates into your future. You wouldn’t go into an interview looking tattered. Why portray yourself that way on Facebook?” said Nicholson.

“I see things that I cannot believe; it’s jaw dropping and it’s painful to see from students, especially former students – they are sabotaging their future. “


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