It seems that no matter what you do on Facebook or how often you visit, it’s making you less happy. Or to be very precise, a study conducted on college age people over a two-week-period found that people left the site feeling worse about themselves no matter what.
The University of Michigan study looked how many online friends people had, how supportive they were, and why the person visited the site and measured mood from moment to moment during and after the visit and invariably people left sadder than when they started. Some studies have suggested that seeing what other people are doing causes envy, which would also make you sad. Another study shows that Facebook did not have such a negative effect, but that study, done at the University of Wisconsin didn’t necessarily answer the real question of why there seem to be mood shifts directly related to Facebook use.
Perhaps, as time moves on and we learn more about the subtle aspects of social media, human perception, and cognition of digital media we’ll get a better idea of what’s going on. But perhaps what we really need to do is spend less time in front of screens and more time out in the world directly interacting with other human beings and nature. I have the distinct feeling that we were not put on this earth to make Mark Zuckerberg and his advertisers richer. I have an even stronger feeling that the human body was NOT designed to sit at a computer or thumb away at a cell phone for hours a day instead of moving and being out in fresh air.
Maybe all social media make us sadder because deep down, we know that it’s no substitute for reality.
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