Facebook used to be a source of amusement and happiness—why else would 483 million people check in daily? But if you find your news feed to be more of a bummer with each passing day, you’re not alone.
In a study presented at the recent Society for Personality and Social Psychology meeting, researchers asked a sample group of Facebook users between the ages of 18 and 65 to read some of their friends’ status updates. Afterward, those Facebook users rated their lives as much less satisfying than people who didn’t check their news feed first.
Among the group who read updates, the study revealed that having 354 Facebook friends seemed to be the tipping point after which people were increasingly less happy with their lives.
The reason: Much of how we judge our success in life is based on how we stack up against our peers. “The problem is that Facebook gives us a limited view of our friends’ lives, and that view tends to be unrealistically positive,” says study author Dilney Goncalves, Ph.D., a marketing professor at IE Business School in Madrid. The more friends you have, he adds, the more likely you are to spend your day enviously reading about someone’s paradise vacation, new girlfriend, or job promotion.