Regular use of social networking websites, such as Facebook, can negatively affect people's well-being and overall satisfaction with life. New research suggests that taking breaks from Facebook can lift people's spirits.
A change in the social networking behavior – be it not checking notifications for a few days, or just reducing the interaction with the platform can make people feel better about themselves.
Social Media Makes Us Less Happier
The research, published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking shows that some people can suffer from what is called "Facebook envy," which is the feeling that people who expose moments of their lives on Facebook are actually happier than us.
The study, conducted at the University of Copenhagen, had 1,095 subjects. Half of them were asked to stop using Facebook throughout the study, while the other half, the control group, was asked to continue the activity just as they normally would.
The study concluded that the subjects who did not use the social networking website for a week reported being more satisfied with life, and also rated their well-being higher than the other half of the group.
While people generally spend a lot of time on Facebook, it doesn't necessarily mean that this habit does them any good.
Actually, it is quite the opposite. When discussing the overall well-being of the users, the study authors responded to the question of being happier from spending time on Facebook as follows:
"Millions of hours are spent on Facebook each day. We are surely better connected now than ever before, but is this new connectedness doing any good to our well-being? According to the present study, the answer is no. In fact, the predominant uses of Facebook – that is, as a means to communicate, gain information about others, and as habitual pastime – are affecting our well-being negatively on several dimensions," noted the research in the discussion section.
Engineering The Digital Self, A Plausible Reason
The present research offers causal evidence that quitting Facebook leads to improvement in the overall quality of life, expressed through affective and cognitive well-being. The participants who took breaks from the social media website didn't just feel a little better; they scored significantly higher in all aspects of the questionnaire.
One of the reasons which may contribute to feeling worse when scrolling on Facebook and reading friends' updates is that we get the chance to edit our online identities, and make them look the way we wish to. As opposed to real life, where positive experiences and negative experiences expose us to be vulnerable, the digital self can take any form we believe is appropriate. Overall, the stories we choose to tell and the ones we choose to keep to ourselves build a non-realistic portray of our lives.
However, due to the complex cognitive and affective processes that the human mind is capable of, this research is mostly deterministic rather than defining an absolute type of causality.