Steven E. White
Facebook is causing the majority of its users to become unhappy, and even depressed. Facebook is the largest social media platform in the world, with around 175 million users logging in every day, not including the people using Facebook Connect. At the end of 2016, Facebook had almost 1.8 billion monthly active users. That’s a lot of unhappiness being brought on by this social media giant, if it really is making people discontent…. We believe it is.
Research has shown that most people, though expecting Facebook to enhance their lives during, and after using it, are becoming sad, disconnected, and ultimately depressed. There are many key reasons for all this negativity, and a few of them are as follows:
- Wasting Time on Facebook Causes Sadness
In a 2014 study entitled, Computers in Human Behavior, only 9% of people who use facebook are doing so to actively communicate with others. Researchers found that scrolling through Facebook, passively gathering unnecessary information, made them remorseful over the feeling that they’ve wasted a chunk of their time. They found after a mere 20 minute use of Facebook, there was a sharp decline in their mood. Interestingly enough, this decline was unique to Facebook, as users did not feel this same mood decline when scrolling through google. Some say this is because Facebook plays off of the psychological needs of the individual to trap them in some false sense of social fulfillment; though we cannot confirm for sure, as of yet.
- Facebook Envy Leads to Depression
Feeling sad after you log out, due to time wastefulness, isn’t the only way Facebook causes you to feel unhappy. While on Facebook, users are known to experience a mental state, termed, ‘Facebook envy’. Basically, it’s the jealousy, insecurity, or envy of your friends’ posts on your home feed. We all know, people post pictures, or statuses, of themselves when they are at their bests. It is rare you see the negative or broken sides of their lives, unless you’ve got friends who find value, and seek attention, in showing how bad their lives might be. Put simply, it is comparing yourself to the ‘perfect image’ people present in their posts, and such comparisons only feed the negativities within you, and put thoughts in your head of what you could have, and be; instead of being content or grateful for what you already have.
In a study by Current Opinion in Psychology, from June of 2016, confirms this simple truth: Envying your friends on Facebook leads to depression. Scrolling past vacation photos, portraits of happy, whole families, and beautiful selfies led people to believe that their friends’ lives were somehow better. Those feelings of envy heightened their chances of developing depression.
- Facebook and Affective Forecasting
Many know, in the back of their minds, that Facebook has not brought happiness into their lives. Arguably, perhaps it has brought momentary pleasure, or numbing from the despairities of life; but not real, lasting happiness OR fulfillment. Affective forecasting is a psychological term to describe how people believe they will feel in the future. Facebook users, 70% checking Facebook daily, believe that 20 minutes on the site will grant them some increased state of enjoyment or positivity, or just boost their mood. They may say they will just check in with friends, or look at pictures for a short time. Little do they know, they are playing into a physiological cycle, thinking Facebook will boost their mood, while the site does the exact opposite, then forecasting again, at a later time, that it’ll boost their mood this time.
Now that you are aware of this
You can be mindful. Take notice of how it all affects you, and how you feel before and after scrolling through facebook. It may be hard for a great many people, but I propose not turning to Facebook out of boredom or sadness, as I believe it will not help you; but hurt you. I draw from my own experience, and the experiences of those around me, as well as scholarly articles and professionals. Simply, I end by stating, life is not meant to be lived, on Facebook, and the numbing that comes from withdrawing into social media, should not be confused with joy; which is what we all yearn for.