ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) — Over-sharing of personal information and increased general activity on Facebook often displays someone dealing with “loneliness” or possible depression away from their computer.
A new study published by researchers at Charles Sturt University in New South Wales finds that more than 79 percent of users who describe themselves as “lonely” disclosed more personal information including their favorite books and movies, compared to less than 65 percent of other users.
Almost 98 percent of self-described lonely “Facebookers” – in a survey of Facebook postings by more than 600 women – found that these users shared their “relationship status” publicly on Facebook, instead of limiting that information to friends.
People disclosing their views on other Facebook walls, excessive sharing, and “liking” too many things on the world’s most popular social network could point to signs of real-life emotional stress, according to the study.
Associate professor Yeslam Al-Saggaf and lecture Sharon Neilson from CSU’s School of Computing and Mathematics found that “Facebook Depression” exists, and that often social media interactions leave people with feelings of loneliness and social pressure to “prove something” to other online users.
The study of “Self-disclosure on Facebook,” found that relationships status, personal information and addresses were not dispensed by people who felt more “connected” to face-to-face relationships.
“It makes sense that the people who felt lonely would disclose this type of information,” Al-Saggaf tells Market Watch. “They want to make it easier for others to initiate contact with them, which may help them overcome their feelings of loneliness.”
Over-dependence on social networks has been repeatedly shown as harmful to one’s physical and emotional health in a series of past studies, including “The Impact of Social Media On Children and Adolescents and Family” from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
A 45-year-old former high school teacher, Rich DeNagel, explained to Market Watch that he forced himself off of Facebook for several months because the social network used by more than 1.1 billion people worldwide was making him feel lonely and depressed.
“For the most part I feel Facebook is a lonely experience. You don’t often see people putting out that they’re going through a hard time,” says DeNagel “There’s a lot of social pressure to show that everything’s great. It’s a never-ending quest to be interesting and intellectual and unique, and strive to prove something to the world. You can’t just be yourself.”
Researchers note that social media can be a way of finding “virtual empathy,” but often that does not carry over to real-world emotional health.
The study authors also noted that self-disclosure of people’s well-being has its own variable skewing from their latest wall post, although 308 of the 616 study participants already described themselves as lonely, with the other half describing that they feel “connected.”
Another Facebook study this year found that many people’s emotional health actually declines when they are being ignored on Facebook, with such people describing that they feel a less “meaningful existence” when other social media users don’t “like” or “share” their statuses and comments.