February 02, 2012
Low Self Esteem Drives Alienating Facebook Posts

Self sabotage is just as easy and natural online as it is in real life. People with low self esteem drive people away with negativity.

In theory, the social networking website Facebook could be great for people with low self-esteem. Sharing is important for improving friendships. But in practice, people with low self-esteem seem to behave counterproductively, bombarding their friends with negative tidbits about their lives and making themselves less likeable, according to a new study which will be published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

People who are really negative are less likable. Few want to be around Debbie Downer or Ned Negative.

Each set of status updates was rated for how positive or negative it was. For each set of statements, a coder – an undergraduate Facebook user – rated how much they liked the person who wrote them.

People with low self-esteem were more negative than people with high self-esteem – and the coders liked them less. The coders were strangers, but that’s realistic, Forest says. In earlier research, Wood and Forest found that nearly half of Facebook friends are actually strangers or acquaintances, not close friends.

That part isn't surprising. Maybe people with low self-esteem need automated filtering software that rates each of their posts in draft stage to warn them when they are going to turn people off. Really negative posts could be blocked.

People who are positive the vast majority of the time actually get more responses when they post negative items. So if you want to get a lot of responses to negative posts first build up long streams of positive posts. Then slip in something really negative.

Forest and Wood also found that people with low self-esteem get more responses from their real Facebook friends when they post highly positive updates, compared to less positive ones. People with high self-esteem, on the other hand, get more responses when they post negative items, perhaps because these are rarer for them

Is there an audience for negative posts? If you could identify who among your friends and acquaintances want to read negativity (and I know such people) then at least on Google+ (not sure about Facebook) you could direct all your depressing downer thoughts to a circle of negativity. Think about it.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2012 February 02 11:06 PM  Comm Tech Society

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