THOSE who have resisted the urge to join Facebook will surely feel vindicated when they read the latest research. A new study has shown that the more someone uses Facebook, the less satisfied he is with life. In this new study, researchers followed Facebook users for an extended period and tracked how their emotions changed.
The researchers recruited 82 Facebookers for their study. These volunteers, in their late teens or early 20s, agreed to have their Facebook activity observed for two weeks and to report, five times a day, on their state of mind and their direct social contacts (phone calls and meetings in person with other people). These reports were prompted by text messages, sent between 10am and midnight, asking them to complete a short questionnaire.
When the researchers analyzed the results, they found that the more a volunteer used Facebook in the period between two questionnaires, the worse he reported feeling the next time he filled in a questionnaire. Volunteers were also asked to rate their satisfaction with life at the start and the end of the study. Those who used Facebook a lot were more likely to report a decline in satisfaction than those who visited the site infrequently. In contrast, there was a positive association between the amount of direct social contact a volunteer had and how positive he felt. In other words, the more volunteers socialized in the real world, the more positive they reported feeling the next time they filled in the questionnaire.
A volunteer’s sex had no influence on these findings; nor did the size of his (or her) social network, his stated motivation for using Facebook, his level of loneliness or depression or his self-esteem.
Why this decline in life satisfaction? Other studies found that the most common emotion aroused by using Facebook is envy. Endlessly comparing yourself with peers who have doctored their photographs, amplified their achievements and plagiarised their bons mots (Google it) makes you feel like your life sucks in comparison.
How does spending time on Facebook affect you?
From The Economist.