A recent study by the University of Portsmouth has found that Facebook users lift their moods and ‘self-soothe’ by looking at their own profiles. Almost 90 per cent of the report’s participants access the site to look at their own wall posts and photos, which serve as reminders of happier moments – especially if the user is upset.  

In a Daily Mail article, the university’s psychologist Dr Clare Wilson said, “These findings are fascinating. Facebook is marketed as a means of communicating with others, but this research shows we are more likely to use it to connect with our past selves, perhaps when our present selves need reassuring.”

So instead of using it to connect with others, we use Facebook to connect with ourselves… Well that’s a bit awkward. Have you ever logged onto Facebook and scrolled through your own page? Now that I think about it, I am guilty as charged (embarrassing but true). It’s not a conscious choice, but once I’ve checked out my notifications and replied to whatever needs it, I do sometimes gravitate towards scanning my profile.

What does this mean? Are we a completely narcissistic society? Looks like it, alright. We all know that image is a huge deal in this day and age, but looking at ourselves to improve our mood takes this to a whole new level. Of course, in most respects, it’s great to feel good about yourself (as long as this is not an obsessive and overwhelming sentiment).  But our Facebook pages are hardly a realistic version of ourselves: they’re an edit, perhaps even an ideal. We’ve un-tagged those unflattering photos, shared the ones where the lighting and angle has happened to make us look especially breath-taking, deleted the comments that make us look unintelligent, and used the ‘About’ section to talk ourselves up, highlight our trendier interests, or to be self-deprecatingly witty. It can’t be healthy to then go ahead and admire these versions of ourselves, surely?

This research contradicts other recent studies which found that Facebook can have a negative effect on mental health.  But maybe it really correlates with these, as it reflects our overly self-absorbed mindsets. What are your thoughts – do you think Facebook increases our love for ourselves? Does it have more positive attributes than negative? Do you think there’s anything wrong with self-soothing by looking at our profiles, or does it reflect way too much ego?

It’s not all bad though – these findings could be used to develop new treatments for anxiety and depression. Still it does all seem a little bit ironic; there are so many cases of depression that are a result of self-absorption in the first place.

Tamara El-Rahi is an associate editor of MercatorNet. A Journalism graduate from the University of Technology Sydney, she lives in Australia with her husband and two daughters.