Research Says Social Media is Connected to Unhappiness

FaceBook Causes DisconnectResearch has shown that FaceBook and other social media outlets could be the connection to unhappiness throughout society. Scientist found that over a two week period, the more time people spent on the number one social network the unhappier they became.

Psychologists agreed with the findings and said that FaceBook has long been strongly associated with a decline in people’s emotional well being. It’s been proven that the ability to establish healthy relationships is the most important factor in how every area of life flows.

Social networks may have broken down the walls of space and time, allowing people to communicate on a 24/7 basis more than ever before; but are the connections authentic?  It appears that the members of these social outlets have concentrated more on quantity versus quality.

In an ironic twist, social media has somehow caused people to be less social; a substitute for the real thing. In order to communicate effectively and establish authentic relationships people need more than 140 characters or a ‘like’ button.

With all the social technologies at one’s fingertips, people appear more connected; but in actuality they are more disconnected than ever before.

Researchers from the University of Michigan gathered 82 female young adults for the assessment. All they needed in order to qualify was a Smartphone and a FaceBook account. The evaluation took place over a two week period where each participant was sent questions throughout the day. The questions were random and sent via text message.

The technique used is referred to as “experience sampling.” It’s been known to adequately identify how people think, feel and behave on a daily basis.

The participants were questioned about their emotional state after only communicating by way of social networks or texting as opposed to having face to face interactions. Their answers collectively pointed to a more fulfilling or happier life when they had the opportunity to connect in person with other people.

Here are some signs that people are less connected now than before social media:

  • People hide behind a FaceBook status, text, Instagram pic or tweet. The ever evolving social media platform allows people the ability create an illusion by projecting any image they want. People can now be whoever they choose to be. The internet eliminates voice, face and body expression; thereby hindering others to gain the important and powerful distinctions that often contradict words. The inability to access these important nonverbal cues, their audience doesn’t have a clue.
  • People appear popular online, but don’t develop authentic connections. If the dynamics of the relationships people pursue are not authentic, they won’t bring any real value in one’s life. The truth is, many go through great lengths for pseudo online relationships while hiding who they really are.
  • The ability to build and preserve healthy relationships is the single most important dynamic which determines how people flow in every area of life. No person can effectively ‘do life’ alone. Most have learned how miserable life really can be when cut off from meaningful connections. Life’s greatest success comes from initiating relationships with the right people and then strengthening them by being authentic.

Study leader Ethan Kross said that on the surface it appears that Facebook would provide a great resource for fulfilling everyone’s basic need for social connection. Research has proven differently.

Volunteers were also required to clarify their level of happiness at the beginning as well as the end of the study. Their happiness rate continuously dropped throughout the assessment. The result of this assessment is of vital importance because it speaks to the negative influence that only communicating by social media has the potential to produce in a person’s life.

People who have few or no real friends, are often diagnosed with depression. Loneliness is detrimental to one’s emotional, and eventually physical, well being.

Research has determined that Social media has the ability to make many people less social and unhappy because ironically it often disconnects them from the real world.

By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
Op-Ed

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2 Responses to "Research Says Social Media is Connected to Unhappiness"

  1. Pat   August 17, 2013 at 7:29 am

    Sugar makes you depressed. Not Facebook.

    Reply
  2. Dr. Larry Rosen   August 16, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    As a research psychologist I have a problem with this study and the way its conclusions have been played out through the media. First, the authors used only 82 college students and rest the bulk of their conclusions on answers to a single question: “How do you feel right now?” In a recent study published out of my lab we studied more than 1100 teens, young adults and adults examining whether specific uses of technology and media–including Facebook divided into three subscales–general use, impression management and friendships–predicted symptoms of 9 psychological disorders including major depression, dysthymia (milder depression), narcissism, compulsive personality disorder and bipolar-mania. What we found, after factoring out many potential alternative explanations, was that while more use of Facebook and more Facebook friends did predict more symptoms of many disorders, it actually predicted, along with more time spent using the telephone for calls, FEWER symptoms of both dysthymia and major depression. I think that the use of a single question to determine mental health may be misleading if you see in our study how Facebook use provided both positive and negative predictors of various aspects of mental health.

    I am happy to send a copy of this article, recently published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior. Shoot me an email and I will send that article.

    Dr. Larry Rosen
    LROSEN@CSUDH.EDU
    DrLarryRosen.com
    Author of “iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession With Technology and Overcoming its Hold on Us” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012)

    Reply

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