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Want to be happy? Avoid friends' vacation shots on Facebook

Social media envy is a real thing, apparently, as German researchers report that Facebook can create negative feelings in envious users. Especially those beach photos.

Donna Tam Staff Writer / News
Donna Tam covers Amazon and other fun stuff for CNET News. She is a San Francisco native who enjoys feasting, merrymaking, checking her Gmail and reading her Kindle.
Donna Tam

Researchers from two German universities found that looking at Facebook may cause you to see green.

Yes, social media envy is a real thing, according to these researchers. The report, "Envy on Facebook: A Hidden Threat to Users' Life Satisfaction?" is based on a survey of 600 people in Germany.

According to the study, which was released today, one in three people felt less satisfied with their lives after browsing Facebook. People who don't post at all, but still read about their friends' lives, fare the worst.

The No. 1 culprit of Facebook envy? Friends sharing vacation and travel photos. The second most common cause of upset was social interaction, which includes birthday greetings and likes and comments on photos and posts.

Other things that bring out the green-eyed monster: family happiness, which is most resented by people in their mid-30s, and physical attractiveness, which tends to irk women.

The study also found that people react to these feelings of jealousy by posting about their achievements. Wow. People trying to make themselves look better on Facebook? No surprise there.

When tooting their own horns on the social network, men were more likely to post about their accomplishments while women touted their looks and social lives.

Researcher Hanna Krasnova from the Institute of Information Systems at Berlin's Humboldt University told Reuters that some of the jealous users will actually use Facebook less or leave it altogether.