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Facebook makes you stressed and miserable, study shows

Step away from your screens

Considering it was built to bring people together, social media has been getting a lot of shit recently. It's been accused of spying on us, promoting jealousy, and even destroying our self-esteem – in fact, only last week, model Essena O'Neill tearfully shut down all her accounts after making the very same claims. But is any of this flack really justified?

Well, quite possibly yes. New research from Denmark has found a considerable link between Facebook and our mental wellbeing – and it's not looking good for frequent users. 

The study split a group of 1095 daily users in half: one side being given access to the site as normal, and the other being forced to stop all usage for seven days. And apparently, those in the latter group were 55% less stressed once the week was up.

“We look at a lot of data on happiness and one of the things that often comes up is that comparing ourselves to our peers can increase dissatisfaction,” said Meik Wiking of Copenhagen’s Happiness Research Institute. “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!) This makes the Facebook world, where everyone’s showing their best side, seem even more distortedly bright by contrast, so we wanted to see what happened when users took a break.”

Before and after the experiment, participants were asked a number of questions about their social life, their concentration levels and their general life satisfaction. The group that were without any Facebook had improved on all counts once the experiment had finished – reporting less loneliness, less stress and more sociability.

“After a few days, I noticed my to-do list was getting done faster than normal as I spent my time more productively,” one participant, Sophie Anne Dornoy, told The Guardian. “I also felt a sort of calmness from not being confronted by Facebook all the time.”

“It felt good to know that the world doesn’t end without Facebook, and that people are still able to reach you if they want to.”