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Why Facebook Is Stressing You Out 227

Hugh Pickens writes "Megan Garber reports that the more friends you have on Facebook — or, perhaps more accurately, the more 'friends' you have on Facebook — the more stressed you're likely to be about actually having them. The wider your Facebook network, the more likely it is that something you say or do on the site will end up offending one of that network's members. The stress comes from the kind of personal versioning that is common in analog life — the fact that you (probably) behave slightly differently when you're with your mom than you do when you're with your boss, or with your boyfriend, or with your dentist. A study of over 300 Facebook users found that on average people are Facebook friends with seven different social circles. The most common group was friends who were known from offline environments (97 percent added them as friends online), followed by extended family (81 percent), siblings (80 percent), friends of friends (69 percent), and colleagues (65 percent). Those are, in the sociological sense, very different groups — groups that carry different (and unspoken-because-obvious) behavioral expectations. Per the study's survey, 'adding employers or parents resulted in the greatest increase in anxiety.'"
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Why Facebook Is Stressing You Out

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  • by cultiv8 ( 1660093 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @06:37PM (#42123627) Homepage
    Did this about a year ago, dropped all friends except for a "close" 30 or so; my immediate neighbors, some close friends throughout the years, and family. No coworkers, no friends of friends, no one from HS or college or grad school.

    The great thing about growing older is that it no longer stresses me out when my parents find out I'm smoking pot with the neighbors. ;)
  • Hrmmm.. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @06:37PM (#42123629)

    Paid for by Google? Sounds like Circles!

  • How about... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Revotron ( 1115029 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @06:38PM (#42123641)
    You just stop giving a fuck about what people think of you?

    I find it's a lot easier to be myself when I maintain an internal locus of identity. If people don't like or at least respect who I am and what I say, why do I count them as my friend? Differences within a social circle can be healthy and rewarding. Altering your behavior to conform to a social precedent is not.
  • by The Archon V2.0 ( 782634 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @06:42PM (#42123701)
    ... and I'm not stressed about it at all. Huh. My anecdote IS the singular of data!
  • Re:How about... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rudy_wayne ( 414635 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @06:45PM (#42123729)

    You just stop giving a fuck about what people think of you?.

    Better idea: Stop giving a fuck about Facebook.

    Seriously. Why are people still paying any attention to that crap.

  • Re:How about... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SleazyRidr ( 1563649 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @06:57PM (#42123903)

    It's not about having an identity, it's about what parts of that identity you choose to express, and the appropriate times and places for that. I know a few people who despite being Christian are very nice people, so I don't rant at them about inconsistency in the bible as I know it'll do nothing but aggravate them. I do however like to share funny anti-religious pictures/jokes/whathaveyou with my atheist friends. Having everybody pooled together on Facebook gives me that pause of "is this appropriate for everyone who'll see this?"

  • by Bill, Shooter of Bul ( 629286 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @07:35PM (#42124363) Journal

    yes, but its a thousand times more difficult to use than in Google plus. Something as simple as draging contacts and droping them into various categories has completly eluded facebook's engineers.

    Its death by a billion configurations for every action and every thing you upload/tag/post/poke/etc that were bolted onto a system that originally only had two categories of people (friends, not friends).

  • by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @08:17PM (#42124749)

    And that's why I don't use social networks (well, I use LinkedIN).

    I don't need to know every person I ever come in contact with at a deep level. I barely need to know most family members that well. So, I sure as hell don't need to know every detail and thought and view of my neighbors, my UPS delivery guy, the guy I traded business cards with at a conference last year, every person I ever have a conversation with at a bar, every person I interact with online in a community, family members, extended family members, in-laws, friends of friends, and colleagues at that level.

    There is value in just knowing that my neighbor is a nice guy and treats me well and that we can rely on each other for help. In trading a friendly smile and a brief conversation with the UPS guy or the person at the bus stop. In getting along with my coworkers and other acquaintances and family members.

    I do not need reasons to dislike these people. Their views on politics, religion, science, and current events are not relevant to me. The last thing I need is for the neighbor that I'll spend much or most of my life dealing with to leave me with a bad taste in my mouth, because I see his constant stream of "libtards durp durp durp" and "republithugs durp durp" and "fuckin' pinko communist atheist scientists need to accept that the world is created by gawwwwd" every day.

    In other words, there is a great deal of value in obscuring many thoughts and having various levels of interaction with people. I may need to know my potential mate that well. And maybe my closest family members (though not necessarily even that). I do NOT need to know all of that (nor the daily activities) of every other person in my life. They do more harm than good and knowing that someone I deal with on a daily basis holds some pretty repugnant views on the world doesn't improve everything. I can't do anything about it. All it does is colors every interaction I'll have with them in the future.

    So, I don't use social networks. If someone has something to tell me, they can call me or email me or even write a letter. I don't need to have them broadcast "at me" constantly. And I don't need to let my view of people be tainted by things that would otherwise NEVER HAVE COME UP IN OUR INTERACTIONS if it weren't for social networks.

  • Zuckerberg's fault (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @09:07PM (#42125273)

    Mark has famously said that wanting to have multiple identities constitutes a "lack of integrity."

    Apparently, to the people running Facebook, you're not allowed to discuss different topics or to use different language with different people. After all, in real life you always talk the same way to the old ladies at church as to the guys at the bar, right? And the same way to your coworkers and boss as to your close friends, right? And the same to your parents as to your spouse in the bedroom, right?

    Of course, the reality of this is that Facebook doesn't give a crap about users. They just want to make money off of you. And the more interactions they can track, the more they know about everyone. That's why every so often they seem to expand the default privacy settings to make your information ever more widely available. Every time you "like" a comment, follow a link on your friend's post, etc., that's another datapoint.

    But if you restrict most of your posts to only a small group, that's fewer potential datapoints. Not good business for Facebook, who wants to sell your interactions to the highest bidder. If they made it ridiculously easy to have multiple identities or groups so you could interact like everyone does in real life, you're only going to share posts with people you think will already like it. And that's something Facebook probably knows already. They're more interested in making interconnections that could tell more about people than the obvious ones... so they force you to cast the net wider.

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson