When Facebook friendships get stressful

Take Facebook fights offline. Credit: Metro File Photo
Take Facebook fights offline.
Credit: Metro file photo

I was “defriended” by an acquaintance after I made what I thought was a pretty funny comment on one of his political Facebook posts. I don’t defriend people when they write downright snarky things on my posts, even though it does piss me off sometimes. Am I only one who finds Facebook stressful?

Not at all. As a psychotherapist in private practice, I can’t help but notice that Facebook is wreaking mischief in some of my clients’ personal lives.

One client caused a family scandal when he established privacy settings that prevented some, but not all, of his relatives from seeing his status updates. A 14-year-old client gave up Facebook for Lent, yet still managed to become entangled in a high school “defriending” drama. A third client “disallowed” her archly conservative brother from commenting on her statuses after he started arguing with her politically liberal friends.

Indeed, social media offers the online universe a whole new arsenal to offend, snub, flirt with, spy on and make public declarations about those we “like” and those we don’t. Given the growing ranks of users, it’s hardly surprising that Facebook is making its way onto the therapy couch.

According to psychologists at Edinburgh Napier University, Facebook stresses people out. In a study of 200 students, researchers observed a correlation between stress levels and the number of Facebook “friends.” Apparently, the more friends a person has, the more one worries about missing important social information, offending contacts, rejecting user requests, deleting unwanted contacts, being entertaining or using appropriate etiquette for different types of friends. Additionally, Facebook can engender lifestyle envy.

Lest the messenger be confused with the message, one might argue that Facebook isn’t necessarily creating drama, just reflecting subtle relationship dynamics that lurk beneath the surface. Social media is, after all, a modern form of storytelling, predicated on people’s desire to share their stories in moment-to-moment sound bites and colorful narratives. Where else can I follow the daily chronicles of my childhood friends and long-lost relatives, or enjoy the chapter-by-chapter unfolding of my friend’s sojourn into single fatherhood?

But by pronouncing precisely who likes and doesn’t like who and who is doing what, Facebook tells us in black-and-white letters and full-color photos what we might otherwise never know and perhaps wish we could ignore.

My advice: If you’re stressed out, think about the consequences before you comment on other people’s posts. If you get into a tiff, you can always apologize online or offline.

Of course, you can also take a break or stop visiting the site altogether. After all, social media is not the same thing as face-to-face interactions, which are ultimately more rewarding.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

No criminal charges in fatal gun range shooting…

County law enforcement officials in Arizona said on Thursday no criminal charges are pending after a probe into a gun range incident in which a 9-year-old girl fatally shot her…

National

California passes 'yes-means-yes' campus sexual assault bill

Californian lawmakers passed a law on Thursday requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on…

National

Syrian refugees top 3 million, half of all…

By Stephanie NebehayGENEVA (Reuters) - Three million Syrian refugees will have registered in neighboring countries as of Friday, but many remain trapped by the advance…

International

North Korean leader's money manager defects in Russia:…

A senior North Korean banking official who managed money for leader Kim Jong Un has defected in Russia and was seeking asylum in a third country, a South Korean newspaper…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

Movies

Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."

Entertainment

Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…