Tuesday, April 18, 2017

New Study: "The More You Use Facebook, The Worse You Feel"

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Last month it was reported that "checking Facebook" was the "most likely mobile phone activity to result in an accident."

Facebook is also creating emotional causalities.

While Instagram was rated the most narcissistic social media, the Harvard Business Review is reporting a new study that has found "liking" others content and "clicking links" on other's content on Facebook "significantly predicted a subsequent reduction in self-reported physical health, mental health and life satisfaction."

In March, Breitbart Tech reported a study "found that just 2 hours of social media use a day can double the risk of feeling 'socially isolated' in young adults."

The study from the University of Pittsburgh discovered that the longer young adults spend on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and even YouTube, the more likely they were to feel socially isolated.

The Harvard Business Review published this last week: "A New, More Rigorous Study Confirms: The More You use Facebook, the Worse You Feel."

They also found that face-to-face social networking has positive mental results.

The Review says study authors Holly B. Shakya and Nicholas A. Christakis say, "In our study, we used three waves of data from 5,208 adults from a national longitudinal panel maintained by the Gallup organization, coupled with several different measures of Facebook usage, to see how well-being changed over time in association with Facebook use."

They say, "Our measures of well-being included life satisfaction, self-reported mental health, self-reported physical health, and body-mass index (BMI). Our measures of Facebook use included liking others' posts, and clicking on links."

The study authors say, "Overall our results showed that, while real-world social networks were positively associated with overall Facebook was negatively associated with overall well-being. These results were particularly strong for mental health; most measures of Facebook use in one year predicted a decrease in mental health in a later year. We found consistently that both 'liking' others content and clicking links significantly predicted a subsequent reduction is self-reported physical, mental health, and life satisfaction."

Both say, "Although we can show that Facebook use seems to lead to diminished well-being, we cannot definitively say how that occurs."

Perhaps this could help. It is written: "For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise" (I Corinthians 10:12).

Both researchers also say, "We did not see much difference between the three types of activity we measured---liking, posting, and clicking links, (although liking and clicking links were more consistently significant)---and the impact on the user."

And they found, "Overall our results suggests that well-being declines are also a matter of 'quantity' of use rather than 'quality' of use. If this is the case, our results contrast with the previous research arguing that the quantity of social media interaction is irrelevant, and only the quality of those interactions matter."

Perhaps their discovery that "quantity"---the amount of time spent seeing a staged part of other people's life choreographed for pictures to be placed on social media---is equally damaging because it creates envy.

Envy is a problem as old as the human race.

Lucifer envied God.

President Theodore Roosevelt once said, "Comparison is the thief of joy."

Long before Teddy came to the Oval Office, the Proverbs told us: "A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot" (14:30).

Thousands of years later Paul would be warning Christians in the early church, "For you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you are you not of the flesh and behaving in a human way?" ( I Corinthians 3:3).

Social media can be a blessing. Facebook can connect family members who live in different areas, it can re-connect old friendships, it can share important and interesting events. It can be used for ministry.

But, as researchers are discovering, it can also be a source of discouragement as people see the planned and staged moments in other people's lives and compare those with the realities of their own---forgetting that all of us live in the real world---and sometimes things are not as they seem on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

Why not have a cup of coffee with someone face to face today, instead of texting them and telling them about it, or posting a selfie of you drinking your coffee midmorning before rushing back to the office to face a cranky boss because you're late getting back and behind schedule on your project?

Re-Focus. It's not all about you. Or me. It's about God's purpose for our lives.


"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11).

Truth be told, you can't be happy and envious at the same time.

Be Joyful. Be Thankful. Be Blessed.