Is Facebook making you glum?

Interesting conclusions to some research from August 2013:

On the surface, Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling the basic human need for social connection. Rather than enhancing well-being, however, these findings suggest that Facebook may undermine it.

Facebook Use Predicts Declines in Subjective Well-Being in Young Adults

The important term in the title of this research is Subject Well-Being which is referring to how people experience well-being. In other words the research is assessing how people perceive their thoughts and emotions.

The way that the research did this was to send people text messages to survey how they were feeling over a 14 day period. The responses lead to the following conclusion:

The more people used Facebook at one time point, the worse they felt the next time we text-messaged them; the more they used Facebook over two-weeks, the more their life satisfaction levels declined over time. Interacting with other people “directly” did not predict these negative outcomes. They were also not moderated by the size of people’s Facebook networks, their perceived supportiveness, motivation for using Facebook, gender, loneliness, self-esteem, or depression.

Personally I think that we are conducting a huge psychology experiment on the human race without too much in the way of risk assessment or training for those involved. As the evidence builds I suspect that our attitude to participating in these experiments will shift to be far more cautious.

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