Family, Self

Why Giving Up Facebook Will Make You Way Happier, Says Science

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break up with FB

I'm addicted to Facebook. I don't just go on there once or twice a day — I'm constantly on there. Although I'm on Facebook a lot, there are many things I don't see on my feed, some things (and people) that I've blocked and other content that the Facebook algorithm has randomly decided not to show me.

Still, there's so much on Facebook that I don't want to see and that I wish I'd never seen. If I never see another over-the-top conservative rant from that nice boy from second grade again, or the endless pictures and videos of my middle school friend's son learning how to potty, I'd be forever grateful. 

But even more than the annoying and sometimes just plain gross shares are the amazing successes and overwhelming joys people share, which cause me to focus on what other people have. I find myself comparing my life to those lives of others, and my life (though a wonderful life) falls short.

Of course, I could unfriend, unfollow or block the spectacular over-sharers, but then who would I have to promote all my crap ... I mean, cool activities and milestones to? 

I'm just not sure I have the determination I need to take myself off Facebook, though almost everything suggests that if I did, I'd be most definitely better off and happier.

Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute said, "Facebook is a constant bombardment of everyone else's great news, but many of us look out of the window and see grey skies and rain, especially in Denmark."

In order to really look at how social networks, specifically Facebook, influence our sense of well-being, the Happiness Research Institute conducted a study of 1,095 Facebook users, 94 percent of whom visit Facebook as part of their daily routine, 86 percent who browse their Facebook news feed often or very often, and 78 percent who use Facebook 30 minutes or more per day.

The researchers polled the participants on their Facebook usages, then divided them into two groups for a week-long experiment. One group (the control group) was told to continue using Facebook the way they would normally, and the other group (treatment group) was asked to not use Facebook for an entire week.

At the end of the seven days, 88 percent of the treatment group (those who gave up Facebook) reported feeling happy compared to the 81 percent of the control group. The treatment group also reported feeling more enthusiastic, more decisive, wasted less time, and felt as if they enjoyed life more. 

The control group (still connected to Facebook) were 55 percent more likely to feel stressed, experience trouble concentrating, and described feelings of loneliness. Researchers came to the conclusion that those negative feelings were most likely caused by Facebook envy

The study stated that 5 out of 10 people envy the amazing experiences of others posted on Facebook, 1 out of 3 people envy how happy other people seem on Facebook, and 4 out of 10 envy the apparent success of others on Facebook.

"The main takeaway from this study is awareness of the negative aspects that social comparisons have, and how we should be mindful of how Facebook and social media affect how we evaluate our lives," Wiking said.

Instead of depending on Facebook to show me only the good or the annoying, I should try to spend less time on it and focus on making my own happiness.