As much as we rag on Facebook, the site is a good way to stay in touch with people and find out what’s going on in the lives of friends and family. Apparently, though, the site is a little too good at it: a new study has found that Facebook can actually bum you out.
True, the study in question leaves a lot to be desired; it could use a much larger sample size. But what it did come across was a wee bit troubling:
We text-messaged people five times per day for two-weeks to examine how Facebook use influences the two components of subjective well-being: how people feel moment-to-moment and how satisfied they are with their lives. Our results indicate that Facebook use predicts negative shifts on both of these variables over time. The more people used Facebook at one time point, the worse they felt the next time we text-messaged them; the more they used Facebook over two-weeks, the more their life satisfaction levels declined over time.
Basically, seeing how great everyone else was doing forced the participants to consider that in relation to their own lives. And they found it lacking.
Granted, asking eighty-seven college students about their life satisfaction levels is probably not the most solid scientific foundation on which to base these kinds of conclusions. But it’s not the first time Facebook has fallen afoul of academia. Some studies have said that Facebook is essentially a playground for self-destructive emotional behavior, amplifying feelings of jealousy and probably leading to other bad decisions as well. Like infidelity, since Facebook came up in at least a third of all British divorces in 2011.
The key thing here is that Facebook itself is probably not the cause. It’s basically that friend we all have who insists that, no, you can do another tequila shot and then eat a bag of Taco Bell, what’s the worst that could happen? But Facebook is, for all the “connection” that it totes, fundamentally disconnected in some ways. It’s not a profound observation to say there’s little cost to being a douche on the Internet, and that overlaps with Facebook.
Good thing those upcoming video ads will probably drive everyone to Twitter. Twitter will never hurt us. Right, Twitter?
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