Facebook can make you unhappy but it can also make you happy. Several different studies done on young people show two contrasting conclusions on how using Facebook can make the user sadder or happier.
According to a study done by University of Michigan psychologist Ethan Kross, the more the subjects used Facebook, the less happy they felt.
Another study done by Hanna Krasnova of Humboldt University of Berlin shows that the more people browse Facebook the more envious they became of their peers.
Then there is a study done by Sebastián Valenzuela of University of Texas that shows that Facebook use raises the college student’s satisfaction in life and increases their social trust and engagement.
So who is right? Well they are all right. The question we have to ask is “what do people do when they are on Facebook?” because it is the way people are using it that is determining people’s happiness.
The New Yorker’s Maria Konnikova writes:
A 2010 study from Carnegie Mellon found that, when people engaged in direct interaction with others—that is, posting on walls, messaging, or “liking” something—their feelings of bonding and general social capital increased, while their sense of loneliness decreased. But when participants simply consumed a lot of content passively, Facebook had the opposite effect, lowering their feelings of connection and increasing their sense of loneliness.
then she continues on saying:
This aligns with research conducted earlier this year by John Eastwood and his colleagues at York University in a meta-analysis of boredom. What causes us to feel bored and, as a result, unhappy? Attention. When our attention is actively engaged, we aren’t bored; when we fail to engage, boredom sets in. As Eastwood’s work, along with recent research on media multitasking, have illustrated, the greater the number of things we have pulling at our attention, the less we are able to meaningfully engage, and the more discontented we become.
In other words, the world of constant connectivity and media, as embodied by Facebook, is the social network’s worst enemy: in every study that distinguished the two types of Facebook experiences—active versus passive—people spent, on average, far more time passively scrolling through newsfeeds than they did actively engaging with content. This may be why general studies of overall Facebook use, like Kross’s of Ann Arbor residents, so often show deleterious effects on our emotional state. Demands on our attention lead us to use Facebook more passively than actively, and passive experiences, no matter the medium, translate to feelings of disconnection and boredom.
As a graphic designer and content marketer, I am constantly engaged in producing new content. And once something is produced, it is shared on mine and client’s blog, social media pages, and website. When audiences, fans, and users engage with the content I make by “liking”, posting comments or emailing feedback, it makes me happy. And in turn, I engage by responding to the feedback.
By being active and putting content on social media we use such as Facebook and by engaging with friends, fans and followers, we feel satisfaction and fulfillment.
So stop consuming and start producing. It’s time to stop scrolling through Facebook newsfeeds and start posting pictures, write interesting status updates, and press more “like” buttons.