Please don’t shoot the messenger…
A new study from the Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany found that materialistic people see and treat their Facebook friends as “digital objects,” and have significantly more online friends than those people who have a lower interest in possessions. They also have a higher need to compare themselves with others—so the more “friends” the better.
According to this study, these are the folks who use Facebook frequently, actively sending out and responding to posts. They acquire “friends” like possessions—which helps them achieve their goals and feel better about themselves through this social comparison. The researchers also note that “materialists love tools that don’t cost money.” I must debate this last point as it’s safe to say we all love useful tools that don’t cost money—it’s smart and frugal.
The researchers asked 242 Facebook users to answer an online questionnaire that asked them to rate their agreement with statements in order to calculate their Facebook activity. They were queried about things like posting photos, how often they compare themselves with others, things they want but don’t currently have, and what having more Facebook friends says about them and how gaining more will help their goals. The results pointed to those who are more materialistic having a stronger need to compare themselves socially to others, having more Facebook friends, and objectifying their “friends” more than other users. The study was replicated with some changes in the demographics of the group used, and it came out with the same conclusions.
The researchers did emphasize that Facebook is a useful tool for achieving goals, but has its limits and downsides. So keep posting and using Facebook as a tool of convenience and a great way to keep in touch with others and to network towards your social and career goals. Just remember that more isn’t necessarily better, and quality over quantity could work best for you.