Keeping up with the digital Joneses

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Associated Press

The researchers wanted to see if the number of positive or negative words in messages the users read determined whether they then posted positive or negative content in their Facebook status updates. Picture: Mahesh Kumar

London - Everyone is guilty of having a quick flick through their Facebook friend’s holiday snaps from time to time.

But according to a new study in Britain, the common idiom “Keeping up with the Joneses”, which refers to the comparison to one’s neighbour as a benchmark for social caste, has been taken to new levels thanks to social media.

Failing to “keep up” is perceived as demonstrating socio-economic or cultural inferiority and now it has been revealed that one in five Facebook and Twitter users admit constantly comparing themselves to others based purely on the status updates, pictures and messages from their “friends” on social media sites.

The survey carried out by Opinion Matters shows that keeping up is now a high-tech affair, with the constant stream of pictures and status updates of holidays, purchases, weddings, babies, new homes and other boasts leading to the rest of us questioning our own lifestyles.

While these comparisons are hugely affecting the younger generation, with more than half of 16- to 24-year-olds admitting they spend much of their time trying to measure up to the lives lived by others on Facebook, the phenomenon is not purely reserved for the young.

A third of social media users aged between 25 and 44 admit they do it too, while more than one in 10 45- to 54-year-olds do the same.

According to psychologist Dr Sandra Scott: “The rise of social networking means there are so many more ‘Joneses’ to keep up with in today’s society.

“We all have a tendency, to varying degrees, to be concerned about how other people view us and this can lead us to compare our lifestyles unfavourably to others who appear more affluent.

“The key is to keep perspective and to focus on the positives of who we are, and what we do have.”

Almost 30 percent say they feel envious of friends, family, colleagues and neighbours who have more than them, more than 40 percent say they don’t like to think they’re missing out, while one in seven say they feel stressed about trying to keep up with everyone else’s – perceived – more exciting life. – Daily Mail

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