Step away from the mouse.
Clicking through your friends’ photos of rooftop drinks, or beautiful beach sunsets from their latest vacations on Facebook while you are stuck in the office can make you feel a bit down, according to a new study.
A new study from the University of Michigan finds that Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) use may dampen users’ happiness levels. The study considered Facebook users’ satisfaction with their lives over time. Researchers studied 82 young adults with Facebook accounts and smart phones, using experienced sampling, which the study claims is one of the most reliable techniques in measuring how people feel, think and behave in the moment.
They were texted at random five times a day for two weeks with the questions of: How do you feel right now? How worried are you right now? How lonely do you feel right now? How much have you used Facebook since the last time we asked? How much have you interacted with other people “directly” since the last time we asked?
Over the two- week study, the more sunjects used the social networking giant, the more their life satisfaction declined over time.
Facebook is the Mecca of over sharing, says Jonathan Geller, founder of Boy Genius Report, suggesting why so many people feel depressed or less satisfied with their lives after trolling it.
“It has become a highly-dramatized journal of what you are doing,” Geller says. “I think people have a tendency to over share and go above and beyond on there, so it’s very boastful.”
And being swamped with braggart details about activities and experiences you didn’t partake in is a surefire way to feel worse about your own situation, says Geller.
“When people share these over-inflated experiences and you are trapped in the office when its 97 degrees and you see a beautiful album of your friends in Costa Rica on the beach, people get fatigued,” he says.
Does More Social Media Increase FOMO?
Fear of Missing Out, or FOMO, has been linked to people watching their friends’ every movement online and feeling like their own life is lacking in some way. A study released last month from MyLife.com reports 56% of people were afraid of missing out on events, news and important status updates when they are away from social media, Mashable reports.
Geller says FOMO in terms of Facebook and other social media is likely tied to how often you actually check the sites.
“If you don’t check Facebook every hour or day, you do miss out and don’t really know what is going on around you,” he says. “I think this is way more true on Twitter. As a culture, we are getting to the point where everything is so accessible, and you know so much of what people are doing…that is what leads to this feeling.”
Jon Rettinger, founder of TechnoBuffalo.com, says he thinks people with low self-esteem would be more susceptible to not feeling good about themselves or their lives after using social media.
“People who are prone to low-self esteem will find ways to promote that attitude, regardless of what they are doing,” he says. “Social media brings the social experience to the computer screen. This is more of a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
Having access to celebrities on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram doesn’t help this issue for those who are easily down on themselves, Geller adds.
“Even 10-year-olds are so over exposed to everything, they can follow their favorite celebrities and see this glamorous life,” he says. “That is what leads to this feeling: it’s out there but unobtainable. It’s so close and personal.”
How to Detach
One way to avoid feel down when using social media is to whittle down your friends list, according to Geller.
“Curate the group of people you follow,” he says. “Limit it to close friends and relatives. That way you feel good about it and it’s not all these random people. “
And remember, social networking should be about just that: socializing and not taking things too seriously, says Rettinger.
“Facebook is an opportunity to look into other peoples’ lives, so just be happy for them,” he says. “You shouldn’t feel sad you aren’t the one out there doing it.”