"Anybody can sympathise with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathise with a friend's success," Oscar Wilde once said.
Now academics have confirmed that Facebook users suffer feelings of envy and depression when they check the status updates of their friends and family.
Researchers at the University of Missouri investigated the mental health implications for the hundreds of millions of people who are active Facebook users.
Lovey-dovey couples, nauseating baby pictures and images posted from exotic holidays are the kinds of material that can lead to symptoms of depression and trigger feelings of envy among users, the academics found.
For their study, Margaret Duffy, professor of strategic communication at the MU School of Journalism, and Edson Tandoc, an assistant professor at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, surveyed young Facebook users and found that some of those who engage in “surveillance use” of Facebook also experience symptoms of depression while those who use the site simply to stay connected do not suffer negative effects.
“We found that if Facebook users experience envy of the activities and lifestyles of their friends on Facebook, they are much more likely to report feelings of depression,” Duffy said.
Previous investigations have found that using Facebook is associated with jealousy, social tension and isolation as well as depression.