Social media is a huge part of our lives, and it's probably not going away anytime soon. And given that so many people spend a lot of time on social media, especially Facebook, it's not surprising that scientists have been trying to figure out if Facebook and other social media networks have a positive or negative impact on our lives. There have been studies, for instance, that have found that Facebook posts with a personal touch make you happier; yet there are also studies that suggest a link between Facebook use and depression. So which is it: Does Facebook make me happy or sad? And if it's the latter, should I quit Facebook? Well, a new study might provide some answers — and it's not good news for Facebook lovers.
A new study published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking looked at how using or not using Facebook impacted people's reported happiness levels. The researchers recruited just over 1,000 participants and divided them into two groups: one group that went about their normal Facebook business, and another that promised not to log on for an entire week. For what it's worth, 87 percent of the participants were able to go the entire week without Facebook — not sure if it's good news that most were able to do it, or sad that there were some people who couldn't make it the whole week.
I guess it's not super shocking that the group who swore off Facebook reported higher levels of happiness — though not by much. Participants were asked to rate their happiness on a scale from 1 to 10, and the difference of happiness at the end of the study was only 0.37, so take it for what it's worth.
Though some people are concluding that this study means we should all quit Facebook in order to lead happier lives, others aren't so convinced. Neuroskeptic pointed out that since the study wasn't a blind study — in other words, the participants knew which group they would be put in — the ones who agreed to the Facebook detox were probably already inclined to take a break in the first place. Also, it relied on subjective self-reporting; and finally, a week isn't really that long of a time.
So I guess in the end, you can kind of take this study however way you want it: If you need encouragement to detox from Facebook for a little while, this could be your push in that direction. Then again, if you're a die-hard Facebook lover, you can use this study to maintain your belief that Facebook is amazing and quitting might not make you any happier. Then, you should consider getting out more.
It's pretty fitting that a study about Facebook, a site that — as we saw during the election — became an echo chamber where people sought out opinions that matched theirs and people didn't challenge their beliefs, can also be interpreted in such a way that it doesn't have to challenge your beliefs about Facebook. Did that sentence make sense to anyone? No? Just me? OK.
And the best part of this study? The way they recruited participants. You guessed it — through Facebook.
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