Are you jealous of everyone you know? If so, it might be time to take a break from Facebook.
Scrolling through photos of other people's vacations, joyful family moments and awesome nights out may be a threat to your sense of personal happiness, say a team of German researchers in a new study titled "Envy on Facebook: A hidden threat to users' life satisfaction?"
And if you are the type of person who lurks on Facebook without contributing much yourself, chances are your sense of life satisfaction is even lower, the researchers found.
The study was conducted by social scientists at Humboldt University in Berlin and Darmstadt's Technical University.
In a survey of 357 people -- mostly German university students -- respondents were initially hesitant to admit to feeling jealous while looking at Facebook. But when asked what makes "other people" feel bad about looking at Facebook, nearly 1 in 3 respondents cited jealousy.
Additionally, 1 in 5 respondents said their last jealous feeling occurred while looking at the social networking site.
Those surveyed said they are most likely to be jealous of other people's travel and leisure time (think vacation photos), social interactions (how many "likes" a friend's picture gets, or how many birthday wishes she receives), and simply the sense that other people are just generally happier in their lives.
Those of us who often feel bad about ourselves after a Facebook binge might stave off those unpleasant feelings of jealousy by pumping up our own accomplishments -- a strategy the researchers call the "self promotion-envy cycle." Additionally, we might stay off the social networking site entirely, or hide posts by people who make us feel the worst.
But as the researchers point out, this mitigating behavior could have consequences for Facebook and other social networks.
"From a provider's perspective, our findings signal that users frequently perceive Facebook as a stressful environment, which may, in the long run, endanger platform sustainability," they write.
In the meantime, I'm going to go block the guy who keeps posting photos of "another amazing sunset in Malibu" from my News Feed.
The pictures are lovely, but I don't think I need them in my life anymore.