The spectacular growth of Facebook has been one of the Internet’s greatest phenomena. It has far surpassed other social networking sites, both in terms of the number of people who have opened accounts with it, and the rate at which it has grown.
That growth in users continues unabated, and currently there are more than 1.5 billion users worldwide. That figure represents more than 20% of the total population of the planet. It may come as surprise, therefore, that some researchers are suggesting that Facebook may be bad for you, especially if you use it a lot.
This conclusion does not come from just one or two researchers looking for a particular outcome to a project they were conducting. The same conclusion has been reached by several researchers working independently of each other in different parts of the world.
In a study conducted by Hanna Krasnova of the Humboldt University in Berlin, many of the participants confessed to feeling negative emotions after using Facebook. These emotions included anger, feeling lonely and feeling frustrated.
The problems apparently arise when people look at postings by their friends who are enjoying themselves at parties, at clubs, or on vacation. Since the person on Facebook is not out enjoying himself or herself, he or she can become envious of the good times the friends are having. The emotion can be quite strong in some people. Strong enough, in fact, for them to quit using Facebook, or to seriously reduce the amount of time they spend on the site.
Ethan Kross led a study conducted by psychologists from Belgium’s University of Leuven and the Ann Arbor campus of the University of Michigan. This study did not question people after they had used Facebook. Instead, the psychologists took the approach of asking volunteers questions five times a day. These questions were about their overall sense of happiness and well-being. They were also asked how much time they had spent on Facebook between the question and answer sessions.
The study was conducted with the same participants for a two-week period. When the researchers collated the results, they discovered that those who had spent most time using Facebook generally had a lower or lowering sense of well-being over the course of the study. Additionally, they found that those who expressed the greatest level of unhappiness were the ones who posted the least amount.
The study tried to determine if any other factors might contribute to the participants feeling more depressed, but could find nothing that could be a cause. The overall conclusion was that the type of social interaction that takes place on Facebook has a negative rather than a positive effect.
One possible reason for Facebook being bad for you is that it distorts reality. This is because people tend to post only positive events in their lives. They are delighted to share the news about their promotion at work, their fantastic vacation, their marriage, their wonderful new friends. Very few will post about the bad things that happen to them. That can make readers for whom not everything is going so well think that they must be doing something wrong in their lives. Don’t let Facebook steal your soul… cancel your account now!