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The case for fewer faces on Facebook

NEED TO KNOW
  • The anti-Social Network? More friends = more stress
  • Facebook users report anxiety on deciding what to post
  • Pros and cons to sharing certain pictures or your politics
The case for fewer faces on Facebook

Out here in real life, having more friends is a good thing. Associated with greater happiness, less stress and more ironic adult kickball games.

But, the Internet is weird. And over on Facebook, somehow, it seems having more friends can be a problem.

A study from the University of Edinburgh Business School of 300 college-aged Facebook users found those with more friends (or "friends") from a wide range of social circles reported higher levels of anxiety when on the site.

That's because the more people you know will see your post, the more second guessing and internal debating you have about sharing it in the first place.

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"In particular, adding employers or parents resulted in the greatest increase in anxiety," the study reports. "Stress arises when a user presents a version of themself on Facebook that is unacceptable to some of their online 'friends', such as posts displaying behaviour such as swearing, recklessness, drinking and smoking."

... as anyone who's ever posted a boozy, late night photo of themselves only to wake up to a 'Please call your mother immediately.' comment from your dad, already knows.

But isn't that what Facebook's custom post settings are for? You can block specific people or even groups of people, from viewing any post. However, the same study found just 1/3 of respondents bother to use this feature.

Honestly world, why does Zuckerberg even bother innovating when all we do is ignore his attempts to save ourselves from ourselves?

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Another just-as-simple-yet-likely-to-be-ignored suggestion: Don't friend your boss. Or your teachers. Or anyone you wouldn't want knowing exactly how you feel about same-sex marriage and/or last night's "Top Chef".

And the benefits of exercising some discretion on Facebook extend beyond not offending your current Facebook friends -- it can also protect your reputation down the line. The Edinburgh study reports that "more than half of employers claim not to have hired someone based on their Facebook page."

Information which can definitely lead to a bit of anxiety, no matter how social your network.

Follow Jonathan Anker on Twitter @JonFromHLN

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