There are more than a billion users registered on the site and of those 1.55 are active monthly users. This means that people are going to Facebook, probably first thing in the morning, and checking out everything their friends are doing and all the stuff they subscribed to, in hopes of never missing a moment. 30 minutes was the average amount of time anyone spent on the site everyday. That kind of effect can do many things to a person but the very thing that FB hoped its platform would do – bring friends and people together, actually has a very negative effect on people, which is it makes them very unhappy.
The Happiness Research Institute from Copenhagen released a study called, “The Facebook Experiment,” and found that those who quit FB for up to a week reported having a higher level of satisfaction in life. They didn’t feel the need to see what their friends were doing and able to complete more tasks in their life, and why not? When you don’t have to keep seeing what your friends are doing you can focus on getting more out of life. Their concentration levels even improved.
In many other studies, Depression has been found in many Facebook users because of the action of social comparison. This takes place when you compare what you are doing with everything your friends are posting online. Your friends lives can seem like they are more fun and interesting than yours when they only post the good stuff. It can get overwhelming when you see your friends going on vacation in exotic locations, posting from different parts of the world and putting up beautiful images of wonderful times.
The fact that Facebook lets you post very intimate parts of, what were once private events, your life can now be shared with everyone you know can be overwhelming for others. Life moments is a feature that FB built in so you can post when you got your first car, or even bought a new one; when you purchased a new house, and so on. All these events showing up in your news, or your friend’s news feed, can be a kick in the face to anyone else that is not doing that great in life. The effects of comparison can lead to depression because it seems like you are not having as much fun as what your friends are doing.
The Copenhagen study does emphasize that the one-week period is not long enough to determine any long term effects of happiness after quitting but I can vouch that quitting FB is very healthy. The author of this blog quit FB years ago cold Turkey. I remember the mornings when I would dread getting on FB because there would be so many things to read that many times I would put in a few hours just going through all the articles that I knew I needed to read.
I came to the conclusion that I just wouldn’t sign in anymore and it has been wonderful. I am happy not having to see baby pictures on there. I’m glad I don’t need to know everything single thing my friends are doing, and I’m more productive in getting things done that interest me. I have never installed the app on my phone and never will. My time is more liberating not having to check in on what everyone else is doing.
Social Media Sites/Apps and Depression
This study is a reminder that before social media and the internet came around, the most friends someone could manage on a healthy level was around 8 to 12. Now social media sites let you have thousands of friends and followers, most of which you will never actually talk to after chatting online for a few minutes or meeting in person at a networking event. The sites and apps pretend to help you keep in touch but the reality is that if you are not a person with amazing people skills it is very difficult to maintain those relationships, even when they get up into the twenties or thirties. Dunbar’s number, 150, comes to mind when considering what relationships mean to people. The number 150 is the maximum number of cognitive relationships a person can have before they start to break down. Most companies limit the number of people in a building to that number because after that it is harder to remember names and faces.
The study that Dunbar did relates very easily to the number of friends one can have on any social media site. It is very overwhelming when you have 50 people with birthday’s on the same day. If you are one to wish them a Happy Birthday everyday you would waste so much time just typing and if you had to come up with a personalized greeting for each of them, that would take up even more of your time.
So, you want to feel happier in life? Quit, or at least reduce, the amount of time you spend on social media sites. You will find you get more done in life, can enjoy doing the things you do, and still meet new people in person! As for how I use social media, I may comment now and then on the things people say from the stuff that I’ve done but I don’t focus on it all that much. I get on to do a few things and then get off. I don’t let what people post affect how I feel, I just look it as another perspective that someone got to experience and enjoy it for what it was.
You can learn more about the study by clicking on the links below and about the other study done on Facebook depression.