That Hallmark card holiday that is Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and anybody feeling the urge to gag at all the romance being posted to social media can take comfort in the thought that, quite possibly, it’s all a sham.
Well, kind of. A new study, to be published in Personality and Individual Differences journal, has found that people who don’t feel secure in their relationships are more likely to post on social media with status updates, likes, commenting on posts in order to get some attention.
It’s not a new school of thought, previous studies have pointed out that social media can feed insecurities and narcissism. But the study – conducted among almost 600 people aged between 18 and 83 – has unearthed new research into how social media affects 'attachment anxiety.'
The study found that there are generally two groups of super active Facebook users – the extroverted, shout it from the rooftop types and the ones with high levels of attachment anxiety.
Those with increased attachment anxiety were more likely to seek approval and feedback via Facebook, seeking confirmation that they were indeed loved, and that others thought well of them.
"Compared to more secure people, those higher in attachment anxiety are more feedback sensitive," Joshua Hart, associate professor of psychology and the lead author of the study, said in a statement. "They report feeling much better about themselves when they get a lot of comments, likes and other feedback on their posts and worse about themselves when their Facebook activity generates little attention."
This can lead to an endless – and likely an eventually fruitless – loop of attention seeking in order to feel more secure and happy in their relationship.
Not a good place to be in.
Suddenly those loved-up Facebook posts of couples mid-smooch don’t seem so shiny. In fact, they might be a signal for low self-esteem and insecurity, and there isn’t an appropriate Hallmark card for that.