Does Social Media Makes Us Unhappy?

This article by Susan Pinker originally appeared in The Wall Street Journal (5-25-17). Not an indictment or judgment. Just food for thought. Food that might help with your happiness quotient.


Does spending too much time on social media make us unhappy? A rigorous study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests that it does. Researchers found that the more people use Facebook, the less healthy they are and the less satisfied with their lives. The study monitored the mental health and social lives of 5,208 adults over two years. The subjects agreed to participate in national surveys between 2013 and 2015 and, during that time, to share information with the researchers about their health, social lives and Facebook use.

The findings? Using Facebook was tightly linked to compromised social, physical and psychological health. In the last couple of months March and April 2017), two other studies have cast a negative light on the social-media use of teenagers and young adults. One, of 1,787 Americans, found that social media increased feelings of isolation; the other, of 1,500 Britons, found that the websites—image-based sites in particular—exacerbated feelings of anxiety and inadequacy.

Why would online social activity be so damaging to health and well-being? According to one researcher, the bottom line is that replacing in-person interactions with online contact can be a threat to your mental health. This researcher added, “What people really need is real friendships and real interactions.”

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