Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Facebook Funk

Facebook got you in a funk? You're not alone.
1000 Words /

Feeling a like you’re in a funk lately? New research points to Facebook as a potential instigator of the blues. A study out of the University of Michigan claims that the more time people spend on the social network, the worse they feel about their own lives—no matter how supportive or large their network is.

After just two weeks of using Facebook, the funk set in. Moods grew more morose as minutes ticked by. “We were able to show on a moment-to-moment basis throughout the day how people’s moods fluctuated depending on their Facebook usage,” said Ethan Kross, who is the social psychologist who led the project.

Facebook can decrease feelings of well-being.
Image: Shutterstock

Kross’s study certainly isn’t the first to indicate that drumming away on social media can darken moods quickly. But if you work hard to make sure your network is filled with supportive family and friends that you can be more involved with at the click of a “Like” button, how can that be harmful?

We can gain self-affirmation by looking at our own profiles, but let’s be honest—how often do we actually do that? I know I only take a quick gander when I’m looking for a particular post someone left or checking up to see whether I remembered to post something. Far more of my time—and yours, I’m betting—is spent looking at others’ profiles and our news feed.

It feels good to be engaged with others, even if they’re far away, and some studies suggest that networks like Facebook actually increase life satisfaction. But other studies look at the darker side of social media, the one that leaves us feeling less satisfied, worse about ourselves, and not so great about our lives.

Kross’s study was the first to look at usage of Facebook over time. The end result suggested that online communication and face-to-face interaction have a linear relationship. As the two increased, the feeling of well-being decreased, leaving users feeling worse off.

“The negative effect of Facebook use on happiness became more pronounced the more you interacted with other people within that time frame,” said Kross. “It’s very likely that there are going to be a multitude of mechanisms that explain this effect.” Basically, more research still needs to be done.

What are your thoughts? Have you experienced the Facebook Funk? Or does using the social network uplift your mood and increase your satisfaction? Me? I’m an everything in moderation kind of gal.