If you’ve been wondering lately why everyone under the age of 30 seems incredibly dumb, you just may be on to something, and it’s a lot more substantial than the typical battle cry of the young, which goes something like this: “every generation thinks the generation behind them is dumber but it’s not true!” Actually, for this particular generation, it really is true, and there are plenty of studies to back it up. Social media makes us dumb, depressed, rude and envious.
People are getting dumber, or at least, they’re doing more poorly at school and on tests. Their cognition is worse than ever, their critical thinking skills are non-existent and their social skills… well, there really is no such thing as social skills anymore. Ironically, social media is to blame.
On average, students spend 12 hours every day participating in social media: tweeting, texting, using Facebook, checking in at Foursquare, wasting time on Pinterest and the list goes on. It’s an indisputable fact that a day has exactly 24 hours. Since most people sleep an average of eight hours, that leaves just four hours for everything else: eating, exercising, traveling from place to place… and where, exactly, does studying fit in? Apparently, it doesn’t.
Numerous new studies show that social media use makes people dumb, depressed, rude and envious. A recent study performed by researchers at the University of Wisconsin and published in the journal Media Psychology shows that while looking at one’s own Facebook profile temporarily raises self-esteem, it has a negative effect on cognition: “Results show that a brief exposure to one’s own profile raised state self-esteem, but that it hampered performance in a subsequent cognitive task by decreasing the motivation to perform well,” the study says.
Further, German researchers show that Facebook, in addition to making us dumber, also makes us more envious of our peers. The study states:
The wealth of social information presented on Facebook is astounding…In study 1, we explore the scale, scope, and nature of envy incidents triggered by Facebook. In study 2, the role of envy feelings is examined as a mediator between intensity of passive following on Facebook and users’ life satisfaction. Confirming full mediation, we demonstrate that passive following exacerbates envy feelings, which decrease life satisfaction. From a provider’s perspective, our findings signal that users frequently perceive Facebook as a stressful environment, which may, in the long-run, endanger platform sustainability…This magnitude of envy incidents taking place on FB alone is astounding, providing evidence that FB offers a breeding ground for invidious feelings.
To put the icing on the not-so-great-tasting technology cake, another recent study shows that Facebook makes people much ruder. In that study, a whopping 80% people reported that they experience more rudeness on social media as compared to face-to-face interactions. It’s no surprise, really, because interacting with screen instead of people also weakens our ability to be compassionate. In fact, studies show that today’s college students are 40% less empathetic than generations before them, and many psychologists and physicians say social media is to blame.
Social media makes us dumb, depressed, rude and envious, but it also makes us more narcissistic, less productive and shallower. The lesson in all of this? Step away from the computer and get together in person once in a while. Or, as the old saying goes, “everything in moderation.”
By: Rebecca Savastio