There are a lot of assumptions about the value of online friends versus face-to-face friends (in the flesh as it were) and the impact of these on our general level of happiness and well-being, what is known as Subjective Well-Being or SWB by researchers. Usually it is assumed that face-to-face contact is superior to online contact, but is it true?
A student researcher, Lena Holmberg at the Örebro University in Sweden looked at this very question and the answer may surprise you.
In her thesis, published yesterday, Holmberg examined the levels of social connectedness of 293 young adults aged between 18 and 48 and their levels of happiness. Social connectedness refers to three things:
- the desire people have to create and maintain relationships
- the social bonds you have with others, and
- the feeling of belongingness that results from these bonds
What she found was that there is no difference in terms of the amount of happiness that online or offline friends brought to the people in the study. She did however find that often the most happy people had what they would term as more genuine online friends than the others.
It would appear from this study that the the more genuine friends you have have happier you will be. It would also appear that it is easier to maintain relationships, build deeper social bonds and get a greater feeling of belonging through online social networking.
If anyone wants to connect with me on Linked-in my profile is here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/centrei
Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117(3), 497-529. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.117.3.497
Grieve, R., Indian, M., Witteveen, K., Tolan, G., & Marrington, J. (2013). Face-to-face or Facebook: Can social connectedness be derived online? Computers In Human Behavior,29(3), 604-609. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2012.11.017
Holmberg, L. (2014) Seeking Social Connectedness Online and Offline: Does Happiness Require Real Contact?. Thesis. Örebro University. Available at http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:736737/FULLTEXT01.pdf.