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Facebook use can nurture a sense of belonging

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Facebook has become a global phenomenon of unprecedented proportions. It therefore becomes worthwhile to consider the psychological implications of being a member of Facebook. Questions have been raised about the effect of Facebook on our self-esteem and sense of belonging reports Taylor and Francis on May 8, 2014. Research has revealed that a lack of social participation on Facebook actually leads to people developing feelings of being less meaningful.

Dr Stephanie Tobin from The University of Queensland’s School of Psychology led researchers in two studies which centered on ‘lurking’ or passive Facebook participation and on ostracism. There was an interest in analyzing how participants would feel when they are deliberately snubbed.

A group who frequently posted on Facebook was investigated in the first study. During this study half of the people were actively posting participants and the other half were simply passively observing friends’ statuses. It was revealed in this study that not posting for two days had a negative impact on personal well-being. A group used anonymous Facebook accounts in a controlled space wherein the participants were encouraged to post and to comment on others’ Facebook posts in the second study. Half of this group were set up not to receive any feedback.

In each of these cases the participants were interviewed about their feelings of belonging, meaningful existence, self-esteem and control after the exercise. The passive and shunned Facebook users each experienced feelings of exclusion and they felt invisible and not as important as individuals. The shunned users also experienced feelings of less self-esteem and control. It was the conclusion of the researchers that active participation on Facebook was significant in producing a sense of belonging among social media users.

This research has been published in the journal Social Influence. The influence of Facebook communication on feelings of social belonging, outlook on life, loneliness and self-worth were explored. The findings from this research have indicated that a lack of information sharing and feedback may threaten important belonging needs of people.

This presents us with novel considerations of new definitions of mental illness versus mental health along with new dimensions now possible in a search for emotional stability using Facebook. Logging into Facebook to share some ideas in order to rejuvenate the mind certainly offers more hope for the realization of healthy minds than the highly toxic arsenal of psychiatric drugs which generally cause a lot more harm than good. Furthermore, with the use of Facebook to nurture healthy minds we are encouraging socially healthy manners of people interacting with each other which has the potential to help them in every realm of their lives.

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