When you’re looking and feeling awesome, sometimes you just needto share it with the world via a selfie. But according to new research, flooding your social media with too many self-portraits could alienate your friends: The more frequently a person posts selfies, the less close their peers feel with them, according to a recent study from the U.K.’s University of Birmingham.
As part of the three-year study, researchers asked participants how they felt when they saw different people in their circle—for example, a close friend, a partner, an acquaintance, etc.— posting selfies. They then asked them to report on the quality of their relationship with the selfie poster. The results: Participants felt less supported by and less intimate with people who posted more frequent selfies, regardless of their relationship with the person.
“There’s a clear link between sharing self-portraits and feelings of decreased relationship quality among the poster’s peers,” says David Houghton, Ph.D., the study’s lead researcher. Though he says more research is needed to determine why exactly that connection exists, Houghton says part of the reason might be that solo shots highlight your life outside of your relationship with whoever happens to be looking at them—which some people might find isolating.
“It’s possible romantic partners and close friends would rather see pictures of themselves with you, spending time together,” he says. “Others may not be interested in seeing tons of pictures of someone else and find too many shares in a short window to be egotistical.”
Your New Selfie-Sharing Strategy
The good news: You don’t have to choose between #SelfieSunday and keeping your online circle happy. In fact, the right mix of you-centric pics can actually enhance your social media profiles by making them more personal and interactive, says Houghton. The key to coming off as more engaging than off-putting is being selective with what you share and where you share it.
“It all boils down to your specific friend groups on certain sites,” says Houghton. “It’s worth remembering that on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you likely have a mix of friends, colleagues, family and acquaintances—and you may not want to share everything with everyone.” If you’re concerned you might be teetering on the edge of an overshare, give yourself a quick gut-check before posting. Consider the platform you’d be posting to and who your audience is there—and if you’re still on the fence about whether to post or not to post, take a cue from what your other connections are doing there.
For example, you can get away with sharing selfies every few weeks on Instagram since you’ll likely be posting tons of other photos in between and your follower base there is likely more friends than work people. But you probably want to avoid them totally on LinkedIn, where the focus is on professional networking, not your social life. As for Facebook, definitely take advantage of privacy filters to control who sees what. “If you want to err on the safe side, it’s always better to share once in a while instead of potentially too much,” says Houghton.
This story was originally published on WomensHealthMag.com.
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