The irony of social media, a way to connect us and yet leave us entirely disconnected. More and more, the idea of “smart” social media usage is getting into my professional sphere. This is no longer something we can ponder about, it’s time to start making your own set of rules on technology based social interaction, or lack there of!
A NEW STUDY FINDS, FACEBOOK USAGE CAUSES MORE SADNESS AND LESS SATISFACTION, duh!
There is no doubt about it, social media sites and applications such as Facebook enable us to stay in touch with many more friends and family members, wish hundred of people a happy birthday and connect with people we have never ever met in the flesh from across continents. All good. But, why then are more and more users of such sites feeling dissatisfied and disconnected?
A new study done at the University of Michigan surveyed 82 college-aged participants on their moment-to-moment happiness and overall life satisfaction while they were using Facebook by texting them 5 times a day between 10 am and midnight over a 14 day period. The results, although not surprising, were clear and significant: the more one uses Facebook, the less happy and satisfied they feel.
Although the study did not program measures to indicate the specific reasons for the decline of affective wellbeing, a likely cause is the inevitable “social comparison” that happens with Facebook usage. It is more likely than not, that a person posting pictures or updating their statuses will be curating their most happy moments or ideals. Now you have hundreds and thousands of “friends” updating your feed with recent engagements, pregnancies, the funniest stories, the most amazing nights out, the overly composed selfies and many reasons to believe you have the most popular, ecstatic “friends” traveling the world and never experiencing a tough moment. So now what? You are inherently, even unconsciously comparing your life, which in that very moment, what are you doing…. on a computer looking at other people’s lives, to their seemingly awesome life. In that very moment… boom, mood decline. But, what’s more amazing, the study also revealed that when asked in those moments the participants also reported overall and future life dissatisfaction.
Another factor within all of this is the idea that when we appear to have too many “connections” we actually feel less connected altogether. There have been studies done on the idea of humans as social animals and as a healthy happy human we need to be surrounded by other humans, but how many? Is there a limit? Can we go overboard? The answer is FACEBOOK (and Yes). Studies show that the upper limit for human social cohesiveness are groups of 150, any higher involves far too much “social grooming” and is costly upon one’s sense of self and the greater good of the group which can cause the opposite of what was intended, disconnection.
* A compelling takeaway in the study was that there were no declines in happiness or overall life satisfaction when looking at other forms of social connection, such as, phone calls and in-person interaction.
This doesn’t mean it’s time to disengage from social media, or that you should deactivate your accounts. This just means it’s time to (re)design your very own relationship with social media.
- BE MINDFUL: When you are using Facebook and other social media platforms be aware of how you feel and what you are thinking.
- PUT A LEASH ON IT: Before limiting yourself, allow yourself to use social media sites as you usually do for one week, while being aware of how much time this generally accounts for. Keep track of this and set goals for yourself over the next 2 weeks progressively using these sites less. Make a deal with yourself and find a number of hours to limit your usage to that feels good to you and stick to it!
- IN THE FLESH: Increase your out of the media sphere interactions. Get out of your house and off the computer… go connect in the flesh.
DR. DEEPIKA CHOPRA