A lack of social participation on Facebook leads to people feeling less meaningful, a new study suggests.
Furthermore the less reaction people get on statuses and photographs the more excluded and invisible they feel. Social media shunning can even lead to lower self-esteem and a sense of loss of control.
The findings come from new research into how Facebook impacts feelings of social belonging, affecting outlook on life, loneliness and self-worth.
And the way for regular social media users to avoid such feelings is to stay active and participate.
The study published in the journal Social Influence was led by Dr Stephanie Tobin from The University of Queensland’s School of Psychology.
Researchers conducted two studies centred on ‘lurking’ – or passive – Facebook participants, and on ostracism, aiming to analyse how people would feel when deliberately ‘snubbed’.
An initial first study looked at a group who frequently posted on Facebook. During the study half were actively posting participants and the other half instructed to passively observe friends’ posts and statuses.
The study revealed that not posting for two days had a negative impact on personal well-being, Science Daily report.
In a second study, a group used anonymous bespoke accounts in a controlled space where participants were urged to post and to comment on others’ Facebook posts.
However half of the group were unwittingly set up to receive no feedback whatsoever.
In both cases, participants were interviewed on their feelings of belonging, meaningful existence, self-esteem and control after the exercise.
The passive and shunned users both reported feeling excluded, invisible, and less important than the active users.
Shunned users also experienced lower self-esteem and control.
With 1.11 billion users per month on average, Facebook has become a global phenomenon offering continual and direct communication with friends and family.
But new researchers suggest it also defines us socially and influences our personal welfare.
Researchers concluded that active participation on Facebook was key in producing a sense of belonging among social media users.