Your Facebook Friends Could Be Making You Sick

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Trending News: Comparing yourself to others on Facebook may influence personal health

Do you regularly tap on Facebook to check in with friends? Upon seeing your buds, do you compare your physique to theirs? Do you take note of their selfies?

If the answer is yes, you could be making yourself sick.

Seriously, no joke. A new study published in the journal Heliyon suggests that when Facebook is used to make social comparisons, it can create greater awareness of personal health issues.

In other words, when your friend posts a picture of his chest gains after pumping iron at the gym, you may become more aware of your physical limitations to lifting weights.

Conversely, if a girl you know shares a photo of her flat abs, you may become more aware of your problems with irritable bowel syndrome.

“I know I’m guilty of comparing myself to others [on Facebook] and that doing so isn’t always a smart idea,” said Richard Sparks, a 24-year old bodybuilder Guy Counseling spoke to about this study.

Sparks belongs to several groups on Facebook that are fitness focused. “When a dude starts talking about shoulder gains, I become aware of my torn rotator cuff injury,” he adds.

Checking out selfies?

Researchers have long since known that social media comparisons can have an adverse effect on self-perceptions and self-esteem. This is particularly true when it comes to body perceptions.

For this investigation, researchers at the University of Surrey, Guildford surveyed 165 Facebook users and asked them to complete a questionnaire. They were asked about things like social comparison, self-esteem, depression, anxiety, life satisfaction, and physical health.

The findings were interesting. Researchers discovered that when participants checked out the pics of friends who were healthier or fitter, the experience activated an increased awareness of personal physical health issues and ailments.

Lead study investigator Bridget Dibb, Ph.D. with the School of Psychology at the University of Guilford made the following comments through a press release.

“Our most important finding was that participants who feel Facebook is an important part of their lives also report more symptoms, linking social comparison activity with the perception of worse physical health.

It is important to study this further as we are yet unclear as to whether comparisons while using Facebook lead to a greater perception of physical symptoms or whether those who already experience physical symptoms tend to compare themselves more on Facebook,” said Dibb.

In the past, other studies involving Facebook and social comparisons have revealed disturbing findings.

An example can be found in an investigation published in the Journal of Health Communication where it was shown that posting selfies may be harmful to a friend’s mental health.

When you scroll through social media apps, do images of friends influence how you feel? Do their pictures cause you to become more aware of your personal health problems?

About MJ Duff 44 Articles
Marie-Jones Duff is a Los Angeles based freelance multimedia journalist and frequent traveler with a fondness for all things bizarre and nerdy. Look for posts that focus on everything from men's fashion to science.