The journal CyberPsychology & Behavior recently published the results of an interesting (though somewhat unsurprising) study entitled “More Information than You Ever Wanted: Does Facebook Bring Out the Green-Eyed Monster of Jealousy?” The short answer is yes- increased Facebook usage can contribute to jealousy in romantic relationships. The authors posit that the possible cause of this is the ambiguity of information gained from viewing a partner’s FB page (e.g. wondering about the identity of that friend request he/she accepted or seeing your partner tagged in a photo that arises suspicion). This in turn feeds insecurity and contributes to more FB surveillance, thereby fueling a vicious jealousy inducing cycle.
The authors do take into consideration that some subjects scored higher in “trait jealousy” (making them more predisposed to this feeling) and that factors such as self esteem and the security of a relationship (casually dating vs. being in a committed relationship) influence jealousy levels. That said, I do wonder about the effect sites like Facebook have on romantic relationships. Are we being exposed to much more information about our romantic interests than is good for us and/or the relationship?
This naturally leads to the topic of grasping and trying to make the impermanent permanent. We’re so scared of losing what we think we have that we end up creating problems in a relationship, possibly contributing to the very ending we feared. While the experience of jealousy and doubt in romantic relationships is hardly new, Facebook provides a new arena for these feelings to develop. I see it even among my smart and relatively secure friends. I imagine that for teenagers, who are by their nature rather insecure, as well as inexperienced at navigating romantic relationships, the tendency towards online paranoia is even higher. What do people think- are sites like FB adding to insecurity and grasping or just providing a new context for the same old feelings?