Unsocial media: jealousy of online friends leaves people feeling down, Kaspersky Lab study reveals

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Social media started life as a way of staying in touch with friends and sharing happy memories. However, the results of the latest study from Kaspersky Lab indicate that social media now leaves many people feeling negative instead.

The hunt for likes plays a central role in this, with the majority of people feeling down or upset when they don’t get as many likes as they expect for a post, and with 42% saying they feel jealous when their friends get more likes than them.

In addition, the research shows that people feel envious when they see the seemingly happier lives of their friends on social media.

In a survey of 16,750 people worldwide, including 1,000 respondents from the Philippines, Kaspersky Lab has unearthed people’s frustration with social media.

People often experience negative emotions after spending time on social media due to a variety of reasons, and these overpower the positive effects of social media.

Users visit social media for positive reasons and to feel good. Most people (65%) use social networks to stay in touch with friends and colleagues and to see entertaining and funny posts (60%).

People also devote a significant amount of time to creating their digital profile and filling it with all kinds of positive moments, posting things that make them smile (61%), and telling their networks about the great time they are having during holidays and vacations (43%).

While it is not surprising that 72% of people are annoyed by advertising that has become extremely intrusive and interrupts their online communications, the reasons for frustration go deeper.

Despite the desire to feel good from their interactions on social media, when people see their friends’ happy posts about holidays, hobbies, and parties, they are often left with the bitter feeling that other people are enjoying life more than them.

For example, 59% have felt unhappy when they have seen friends’ posts from a party they were not invited to, and 45% revealed that their friends’ happy holiday pictures have had a negative influence on them.

Furthermore, 37% also admitted that looking at past happy posts of their own can leave them with the feeling that their own past was better than their present life.

Why Filipinos Use Social Media

Answers from 1,000 survey respondents from the Philippines revealed a great majority (76.7%) of Filipino netizens use social media to keep themselves updated with the latest news and current events.

Ironically, almost three out of 10 (27.7%) social media users admitted seeing news about politics, economy and foreign countries makes them sad.

Aside from being a news source, Filipinos (76%) also consider social platforms like Facebook and Twitter as tools in keeping in touch with their families, friends and colleagues.

Depression Triggers for Filipinos

In terms of how social media affects their mood, the survey showed 29% of the Filipino respondents felt very low when someone else got control of their profiles, when someone seems to have a better life than them (27.7%) and when a friend’s photo or status update received more likes than their own (25.8%).

27.7% of the respondents also confessed seeing their friend’s photos during parties they are not invited to results to feeling down. 27.7 percent Filipino social media users also said they felt sad when someone trolls them or their community.

Previous research has also demonstrated people’s’ frustration with social media as 78% admitted that they have considered leaving social networks altogether. The only thing that makes people stay on social media is the fear of losing their digital memories, such as photos, and contacts with their friends.

While keeping in touch with friends may be a difficult problem to solve, Kaspersky Lab is working on a solution to help people save their digital memories.

“Our relationship with social media has developed into a vicious cycle. We want to go onto our favourite social platforms to tell all of our connections about the positive things we are doing – that makes us feel good”, says Evgeny Chereshnev, head of Social Media at Kaspersky Lab. “But the reality is that everyone is doing the same thing, so when we log onto social media we’re bombarded with images and posts of our friends having fun. And it looks like they’re enjoying life more than us. It’s easy to see why this is leaving people feeling down and why so many people have considered leaving social media altogether. The difficulty is that people feel trapped because so many of their precious memories have been stored on social media and they don’t want to lose access to these.”

To help people decide more freely if they want to stay in social media or leave without losing their digital memories, Kaspersky Lab is developing a new app – FFForget will allow people to back up all of their memories from the social networks they use and keep them in a safe, encrypted memory container and will give people the freedom to leave any network whenever they want, without losing what belongs to them – their digital lives.

FFForget is planned for 2017. Interested users can register at ffforget.kaspersky.com to get updates and insights, provide feedback and get early access.


This study was conducted online by research firm Toluna, October – November, 2016. Users from 18 countries were surveyed online. A total of 16,750 people, aged over 16 years old, split equally between men and women, were surveyed. Data was weighted to be globally representative and consistent.

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