When Worlds Collide: Do More Facebook Friends Mean More Stress?

A new report finds that the more Facebook friends you have, the more stressful your life likely is. Is it difficult for you to manage your Facebook persona?


I have 481 Facebook friends: a hodgepodge of high school and college friends as well acquaintances, former and current coworkers, and family. I don't consider myself a particularly stressed-out person, so my friend count and friend ratio must be on the A-Okay side, according to a new study.

The University of Edinburgh Business School, along with the University of Bath, published a report this week concluding that the higher your Facebook friend count, the more stressful your life may be.

The report surveyed just 300 people on Facebook, mostly students with an average age of 21. And while the findings are largely expected—it’s no shock that the highest source of stress stems from adding employers or parents as friends—it does pose an interesting question: Which version of yourself do you portray on Facebook?

According to the study, "Stress arises when a user presents a version of themselves on Facebook that is unacceptable to some of their online 'friends,' such as posts displaying behavior such as swearing, recklessness, drinking and smoking."

As George Costanza says in the "Worlds Collide" episode of Seinfeld, "Anybody knows...You gotta keep your worlds apart!"

Of course, there are privacy settings to help you manage what groups of your friends see which posts. But, according to the report, only a third of respondents use those settings.

Which persona do you portray on Facebook? Is your profile more friend-oriented or work-oriented? Do you find it stressful to manage your various groups of friends? Let me know in the comments section below.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

The CIO Fall digital issue is here! Learn how CIO100 award-winning organizations are reimagining products and services for a new era of customer and employee engagement.