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Is Facebook Making You Miserable?


Facebook can be a wonderful place to connect with friends, both old and new, family, and long-lost school chums. But social media also has a dark side. Many studies, including the latest published in the Public Library of Science, find that there should be a balance of social media use to prevent negative emotions.

Ethan Kross of the University of Michigan and Philippe Verduyn of Leuven University in Belgium recruited 82 Facebookers for a study. All were in their late teens or early 20’s. They agreed to have their activity on the social media site observed for two weeks and to report five times a day on their state of mind.

Overall, the more someone uses Facebook, the less satisfied he is with life. Other studies have had similar findings, noting that Facebook use can lead to jealousy, social tension, isolation and depression. One study in particular, conducted by social scientists at Humboldt University and Darmstadt’s Technical University (both in Germany), found that young people felt excessive envy when using Facebook, as they constantly compared themselves to their “friends.”

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"On the surface, Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling the basic human need for social connection. But rather than enhance well-being, we found that Facebook use predicts the opposite result - it undermines It,” write the authors.

How can you use Facebook wisely? The most recent study suggests using social media as a supplement – not a replacement – for direct human contact. Those who socialized more in the real world had less negative feelings when using social media.

Over 133 million people in the US alone are estimated to be subscribed to Facebook with well over a billion using the site worldwide. Other popular social media sites include Foursquare (33 million users), Google + (343 million active users), Instagram (130 million users), LinkedIn (238 million users), Pinterest (70 million users), and Twitter (500 million total users).

Journal Reference:
Facebook use predicts declines in subjective well-being in young adults, Ethan Kross, Philippe Verduyn, Emre Demiralp and othersPLOS ONE, August 14, 2013

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