The Downside of Facebook
The more time you spend on Facebook, the more unhappy you become. A new study by University of Michigan researchers has strengthened a growing body of research showing that frequent use of the social-networking site leads to feelings of envy, sadness, loneliness, and anger.
Researchers gauged the mood of 82 young study subjects by texting them five times a day, asking them detailed questions about how they felt and when they had last gone on Facebook. Visits to the site were directly correlated with negative emotions, including depression and loneliness. Because of the frequency of the mood-measuring, researchers said they were confident that Facebook use was causing the bad feelings, rather than that people were using the site when they felt lonely or sad. When subjects reported face-to-face social contact, the study found, they felt happier and more cheerful —in direct contrast with their online socializing.
“On the surface, Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling the basic human need for social connection,” social psychologist Ethan Kross tells TheAtlantic.com. “But rather than enhance well-being, we found that Facebook use predicts the opposite result—it undermines it” Researchers have speculated that because people tend
to post an idealized version of their lives on Facebook, with photos and accounts of trips, happy social gatherings, and work or school achievements, it makes visitors to their pages feel that their own lives are comparatively drab, lonely, and unsuccessful.