Facebook Related Mood Decline
Recently, a group of researchers at University of Michigan did a study on a phenomenon that many of us know all too well: Facebook related mood decline. I know that sounds ridiculous, but, stay with me here. The study showed that college-aged people experienced less moment-to-moment happiness the more that they used their Facebook accounts.
Again, this may seem silly, but think about it: what is Facebook? It’s essentially a never-ending list of your acquaintances activities, accomplishments, pictures, and feelings. You scroll down your newsfeed and are inundated by information about people you may not even know that well, and, a lot of times, this is information that really doesn’t deserve to be shared. What this amounts to, then, is not only our generation’s increased need for an immediate flow of new information, but a tool with which we can constantly compare ourselves.
When you see a stream of updates from your former peers about their new significant others or pictures from their tropical vacation, how can you help but start to think about your own life? Sure, when these are updates from your close friends, it’s easy to be happy for their happiness. But when these Facebook “friends” are people from my middle school whom I haven’t seen in nearly a decade, my thoughts, and, according to the University of Michigan’s researchers, many other people’s thoughts, jump to “why not me?” I rarely update my own Facebook status, but just seeing all these people on my newsfeed bragging about their lives sometimes makes me wonder, “what’s so great about my own?”
We’ve become a generation that seeks validation from the reception we get on tidy little bites of information we can put on the internet. What’s more, this attitude seems to reflect an even more troubling one. Check out this quote by Juno and Young Adult screenwriter Diablo Cody:
“I feel like I’m part of a generation of people who are stuck in the past and are really self-absorbed. I mean, we’re actually taking pictures of ourselves and posting them on Facebook, and keeping in touch with people that should have been out of our lives 15 years ago… It’s like we’re recreating high school every single day using social media. And it’s weird.”
Aside from the smart observation about our generation’s almost pathological self-involvement, this quote raises another question for me: just because we can keep in touch with people, should we? You may be one of those people that can scroll through their newsfeed and not be fazed by anything you see—I have plenty of friends like that. However, I also have plenty of friends who’ve decided that if the updates you’re getting on Facebook don’t make you happy, get rid of them! There’s no reason to keep toxic presences in your life just for the sake of keeping a Facebook friend, especially if they’re a person you haven’t spoken to in years, if at all.
Here’s how you might make some changes about the way you use Facebook. Every once in a while, go through your friends and think long and hard about each one. When was the last time you talked to them? Is this person in your life in any significant way? Do their updates make you upset? Does the number of Facebook friends you have really matter? Also, think about how often you log on. Is there any reason to go on multiple times a day? Checking your newsfeed at night will show you everything that happened that day, right? Also, remember that there’s nothing wrong with taking a Facebook break or deleting your account all together! Facebook didn’t even exist until about ten years ago, and people survived! Your close friends will find other ways to stay in touch with you.
What do you think about Facebook? Do you agree with the research published by the University of Michigan?