A lot of questions about Facebook have arisen in recent weeks. One of the biggest ones is whether or not Facebook actually makes you unhappy. Is it true? It depends on the individual, but here are a few reasons Facebook might be doing you more harm than good.
1. Facebook is addictive.
Most of the people reading this will probably attest to the fact that Facebook can be extremely addictive. By definition, that makes it something that can cause harm to you, especially since if you can’t easily abstain from it. As we all know, addiction can be a dangerous thing, even with something as seemingly innocuous as a widely-used website.
2. Facebook purposefully manipulates your emotions.
Facebook recently revealed that it performed an experiment on us in 2012 without our consent. Facebook tweaked almost 700,000 English-speaking users’ news feeds to find out if the content they viewed affected their moods. That particular study suggests that being exposed to positive content encouraged positive thinking, while being exposed to negative content encouraged negative thinking. The results of the study aren’t as important, though, as the fact that Facebook deliberately made hundreds of thousands of users unhappy. It was a huge violation of trust, perfectly demonstrating the harmful consequences of the social media outlet.
3. Facebook is the new playground.
Nowadays a lot of people, especially young people, are doing the majority of their socializing on the web, and on Facebook in particular. Like any kind of social environment, Facebook can be a place where unpleasant things are said and unhappy feelings are felt. Just because no one’s beating you up and taking your lunch money doesn’t mean you’re not dealing with bullies. Social media platforms like Facebook are just as likely to expose kids to ridicule or pain as the playground or school halls. Maybe moreso, in fact; we’ve all seen reports of emotional abuse that happened on Facebook or other social media. Actions on Facebook may not result in as much real world accountability, making it a place cruel people might flock to.
4. Facebook reminds you of what you don’t have.
Are you single? Enjoy hearing about all the new relationships and engagements and wedlocks in your news feed. The same goes for seeing people socialize while you’re at home or getting promotions when you’re stuck at a dead end job. Chances are, being exposed to things you wish you had on Facebook will make you envious, which will in turn will make you unhappy.
5. Facebook is par of the Internet.
The web’s reputation is improving, but it’s still home to a lot of nasty stuff. The recent celebrity nude photos scandal is a testament to that. Facebook is less seedy than some other social media outlets because it discourages anonymity, but at the same time, it remains a part of the Internet. A lot of things on Facebook are liable to make you unhappy simply because it exists on the web, a place where a lot of people are ruder or more defiant than they would be face-to-face. A difference in opinion is more likely to lead to an argument on Facebook than the real world, for example.
6. Facebook prevents engagement.
The New Yorker wrote a fascinating article explaining why there’s conflicting research on whether or not Facebook makes us unhappy. It theorized that the unhappy people are the ones who are using Facebook passively. By just scrolling through their news feeds or photos, they weren’t engaging. The people who benefit from Facebook are probably the ones creating content, contributing something to the world instead of just killing time. Boredom leads to unhappiness, and browsing Facebook is often something that people do when they’re bored or even something that bores them even further. If you’re feeling unhappy on Facebook but don’t want to give it up, consider becoming more active on it. Post status updates, contribute to discussions, share photos, etc. Just get involved!
Featured photo credit: Scott Beale via flickr.com