How to Be Less Annoying on Facebook

May 28, 2015 Updated: May 28, 2015

Are you annoying on Facebook? This new study will tell you if you are. 

It’s hard not to be judgmental on Facebook. We all have friends who always write about their significant other, or friends who just can’t wait to tell the world about the amazing adventures they’re on. Then, there are those who must constantly remind you that they have published a book, gotten that promotion, or reached yet another high point in their lives.

As it turns out, we aren’t the only ones feeling annoyed about the lovey-dovey, humble-bragging statuses on Facebook.

A new study released by Brunel University in London suggests that people’s personality traits drive the content of their statuses. The data is collected from 555 Facebook users who completed online surveys that measured for the Big Five personality traits—extroversion, neuroticism, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness—as well as factors like self-esteem, narcissism, and frequency of updates about certain topics.

The research found that people with low self-esteem posted more frequent status updates about their romantic partner. It also found that people with low self-esteem received fewer likes and comments because of this tendency, as people who share more about their relationships are perceived as less likeable.

Narcissists’ publicizing of their achievements appeared to be positively reinforced by the attention and validation they crave.

On the other end of the spectrum, narcissists posted more about their achievements, diet, and exercise. Narcissists are more likely to receive likes and comments on their statuses, but this is because they tend to boast about achievements more often than others.

“Thus, narcissists’ publicizing of their achievements appeared to be positively reinforced by the attention and validation they crave,” the study states.

Facebook's Infection. (Ksayer1, CC BY-SA 2.0)
Facebook’s Infection. (Ksayer1, CC BY-SA 2.0)

“Although our results suggest that narcissists’ bragging pays off because they receive more likes and comments to their status updates, it could be that their Facebook friends politely offer support while secretly disliking such egotistical displays,” said psychology lecturer Dr. Tara Marshall, leading author of the study, in a press release.

Extraverts more frequently update about social activities and everyday life. People who are more open to experiences are more likely to write about intellectual topics such as current events, research, or their political views, rather than their personal lives. The conscientious are more likely to update about their children.

The study concludes: “It is important to understand why people write about certain topics on Facebook insofar as the response they receive may be socially rewarding or exclusionary. Greater awareness of how one’s status updates might be perceived by friends could help people to avoid topics that annoy more than they entertain.”

Close friends might hit “like” on a post they don’t necessarily like, but acquaintances might just ignore it, or even worse—unfriend the perpetrator.