Facebook as a Depressant

Measuring your own life against friends’ affects well-being

healthy living magazine

healthy living magazine

Got the Facebook blues? You know what it’s like — you log in, scroll through everyone’s photos and just can’t help measuring your own life against your friends’, and sometimes coming up short. Well now there’s evidence Facebook usage makes the half-billion of the site’s regular users sadder.

Researchers in Ann Arbor, Michigan text messaged young adult study participants five times a day for two weeks to see how their Facebook usage was affecting their subjective well-being. They were testing for two main components: how people felt moment-to-moment, and how satisfied overall they were with their lives.

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“The more people used Facebook at one time point, the worse they felt the next time we text messaged them,’ the study reports. ‘The more they used Facebook over two-weeks, the more their life satisfaction levels declined over time.”

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The researchers found that interacting with other people directly — in person or on the phone — did not have the same association with decreases in well-being, and in fact tend to make people feel better over time. They were also able to rule out the hypothesis that people are more likely to use Facebook when they feel bad in the first place, and found increased usage associated with declines in well-being even when controlled for loneliness.

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So, if you’re feeling down - don’t jump on Facebook. Call up a friend and make a coffee date instead.

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