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Is Facebook Making Us Paranoid?

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?

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Matt Jones

posted August 10, 2009 at 8:39 am

Keeping to the eight fold path should keep one out of trouble in this area and remove paranoia, no? Right speech. Does this need to be said? Does this need to be said now? Does this need to be said by me?

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Joseph Young

posted August 10, 2009 at 8:54 am

Oh Man
I started meeting people on-line in 1994 and see the internet to be over all as a whole a good were to start and have ture friendships that are supportive,compassionate and real. The net makes the world a better place.

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posted August 10, 2009 at 9:11 am

Jealousy can often be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Although a somewhat extreme form of jealousy, delusionally jealous individuals often push their partner into seeking alternative relationships with others because of the absurdity of their accusations. Professor of Clinical Psychology at The University of Wales at Bangor, Richard Bentall, in his wonderfully lucid and empircally supported assessment of the mental health system Doctoring the Mind: Why Psychiatric Treatments Fail notes the awfully sad case study of a patient of his that was experiencing delusional jealousy; the patient’s wife eventually left him for another man. Unable to cope, the patient committed suicide. Terrified by his insecurities, the patient overestimated the threat posed by his cognitions and clung to the notion that they were true, as well as his inner belief that his existence could only be validated by his wife loving him. Facebook extends the landscape into areas of peaks and troughs that we would not ordinarily seek to scale or fall into.

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posted August 10, 2009 at 10:50 am

Far more worrying for me is how Facebook encourages people to put all their lives in the public arena – that it changes people’s concept of privacy. I’ve friends who post everything up about their children on it and I can’t help wondering how the children will feel when they are adults – that their privacy has been invaded? I’ve found I’ve had to be really mindful of Facebook and how much I communicate with it to others.

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James Spencer

posted August 10, 2009 at 12:52 pm

Racy comments CAN trirgger feelings of jealousy in insecure individuals…In the real world, pretty girls are “hit on” hundreds of times, so it just goes with the turf, if you wanna’ date “hotties”, you must be emotionally mature, and prepared to deal with a LOT of serious competition…Social networking sites “out” these jealous tendencies, which may be unpleasant, but it’s good to expose and examine the Green-Eyed Monster…
I’m too old fashioned for Facebook..I like ‘kickin’ it old school”, with MySpace…Now THERE’S your Shempa warning…

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Greg P

posted August 10, 2009 at 1:19 pm

I take issue with the title of this post: “Is Facebook Making us Paranoid?” We are the problem–not Facebook. Facebook gives us new ways to tie together our social lives, and it is up to us to use that power wisely. That includes not uploading photos that will make your partner jealous and, if you care enough, changing your privacy settings. Just as in the old days you wouldn’t leave out a photo that might make your girlfriend jealous, nowadays we have to establish and follow new protocol: this includes untagging ourselves from photos we don’t want shared with all our FB friends, changing our privacy settings to suit our own use of FB, and understanding the consequences.

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posted August 10, 2009 at 1:57 pm

There’s a definite shift toward the microscopic analysis of other’s lives. The burgeoning proliferation of surveillance is being, in my opinion, accelerated by the general public’s need to compare and contrast their lives with others. Facebook, Myspace and television shows like Big Brother are merely platforms people use to do this. I believe this has widespread implications.
If the voyeuristic following of others’ lives becomes socially acceptable – which it has – then it’s not too great a leap to see how widespread surveillance of citizen’s lives becomes philosophically appealing, implemented and, thus, socially accepted. Society itself appears to be paranoid and Facebook is an agent of a paranoid society, in my opinion, of course.
If we delve deep enough into the minds of others we will, no doubt, encounter aspects we do not like, unless the subject of our analysis is an enlightened being. Therefore, surveillance or voyeurism can be used to find evidence of deviance where there is none or to criminalise character traits that deviate from the standardly distributed norm.
In Britain we’ve seen the use of video surveillance, rolled out under anti-terrorism laws, being abused by local councils to penalise citizens for minor parking violations or for placing rubbish into the incorrect bin. What are the implications of this surveillance? How much of it is state sponsored paranoia and to what extent does it become subconsciously acceptable because of the day-to-day use of voyeuristic tools like Facebook, Myspace and shows like Big Brother? Perhaps it’s me that’s paranoid and not the state?
The paranoid state produces paranoid citizens.

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posted August 10, 2009 at 10:54 pm

Dave, you aren’t being paranoid. The fact of the matter is that our culture(s) jump into new Internet developments without the slightest foresight or consideration of the implications of its use on individuals or society at large. Maybe, as Greg P. states, it is up to the consumer to set boundaries, but how many consumers know how? How many are aware? Are there consumers out there who don’t understand the possible negative long-term implications of allowing their private lives to be a showcase, and how many have the maturity to set those boundaries wisely?
I am personally appalled at how easily so many people have slid into the narcissistic nonsense of virtual culture and call it sharing. As for the jealousy factor, if one behaves without dignity on or off line, one will likely run into trouble with one’s lover.

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posted August 12, 2009 at 11:47 am

Facebook making us paranoid? Hum? This is strange to me, because you are in complete control of what, how, and who see’s the information. A simple policy, if you would not do it in person, why do it on facebook or the net for that fact. I have seen things posted on Craigslist that were pornographic and the idiots for some reason had the idea it would help them…..NOT…just completely stupid and if they were my kids I would have kicked their behinds. Completely, inappropiate behavior, but as a whole our society has turned that way. Also, it does not just happen on the internet, I was at a restraunt with my 5 year daughter, when a boy announced to the girl at the cash register, he needed her to hold it while he went to the bathroom. I was really, shocked and sat there wondering if this is what I heard? I finally went and ask her, she said yes, I told her he did not right to treat her with such disrespect and if she did not tell her boss I would. She went in the back, and I spoke with the boss, and told him that the young lady was nice and did not deserve what this boy said. He said he would talk with him. Being a business owner my self, the talk I would have had: would be “your fired” for inappropriate behavior.
I really think these are the things that are causing problems in our country, people have let all sense of what is right and wrong go out the window, and they just do and say anything that comes to mind. There are things you can do at home, like run around your house without your clothes on, but you don’t do that at the mall, work or a restraunt.
I think as a society we have lost our way.

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posted August 14, 2009 at 12:00 am

Gee, if you still operate with high school mentality or you’re terribly insecure it might be.

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mary o shea

posted May 1, 2011 at 2:55 pm

yes facebook is making people very paranoid very unappealing quality in some one i don’t like paranoid can see what they are about before you add going in to dark with out clue

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