If you post to Facebook and no one likes it, does the post really exist?

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It’s easy to make fun of “Facebook makes us sad” research. After all, when we were kids, we didn’t even have Facebook while walking uphill to school both ways.  But Facebook is the way we live now; ignore such research at your own peril, and the peril of the folks you love.

Ever been at a meeting, or with a group of friends, and made a statement that everyone seems to ignore? That can make even the most confident person feel small. Well, on Facebook, that happens a lot. And according to a new study out of the University of Queensland, users who write posts that get no feedback end up with lower self-esteem. Science Daily does a good job of explaining the research, but it is what you’d expect. Scientists tricked Facebook users into making posts that get ignored, and then found out they felt bad about it.

House ad 450wWe’ve all been there — told a joke that nobody laughs at. (OK, some of us more than others).  Sure, you learn to cope.  But on Facebook, those humbling experiences can happen with a speed and ferocity that can’t really be duplicated in real life.  Write an update that no one likes, let alone comments on, and you are likely to feel stupid. Update your profile photo and generate no reaction and you are likely to head straight to a therapist.  Sure, you could cope with it, and many do. But in reality, folks who already have low self-esteem or feel ignored can have that depressing feeling dangerously magnified by facing Facebook silence.  Again, it’s easy to yell “Aw, just get over it” at this point.

But look at your news feed. It’s full of people who write posts just to get reaction (that’s life itself, isn’t it?). And what happens when they don’t get reaction ? They ratchet up the emotional content. In its most harmless form, that means ratcheting up the cat content.  Worse, the profile pictures become more suggestive. Worse still, they provoke, troll, or even threaten.

As in all areas of life, parents and friends should be senstitive to escalating attention-getting behavior and try to intercede before things get out of hand.  Yes, too much self-esteem, like all things, is bad. But being ignored at just the wrong time is pretty painful too. Would it kill you to click a few more likes when you see a friend who could use a kind word (better yet, ask them to coffee!)

But don’t worry, I won’t feel bad if you don’t like this story.

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About Bob Sullivan 1648 Articles
BOB SULLIVAN is a veteran journalist and the author of four books, including the 2008 New York Times Best-Seller, Gotcha Capitalism, and the 2010 New York Times Best Seller, Stop Getting Ripped Off! His latest, The Plateau Effect, was published in 2013, and as a paperback, called Getting Unstuck in 2014. He has won the Society of Professional Journalists prestigious Public Service award, a Peabody award, and The Consumer Federation of America Betty Furness award, and been given Consumer Action’s Consumer Excellence Award.