Categories: Facebook

Does Facebook Make You Less Happy?

Perhaps you don’t even consider the question in the title. But I’d expect that, on occasion, you might ask yourself the question: “Do I really want to continue using Facebook?” For cat rescue, Facebook (FB) does serve a useful purpose. I think that is fairly certain. FB can save the lives of cats. But is there an underlying feeling of competition between people engaged in cat rescue or similar enterprises which can upset people? Do some people become unjustifiably nasty on FB? Add to that the trolls and FB can become an unpleasant place to be.

Then there is the attitude of FB management who refuse to remove despicable images and pages on cat and animal abuse because it does not violate their policies (lousy policies, I say). Also, it can be hard to be noticed on FB. There is a lot of competition and everything is quite transient. It is here one day and gone the next.

Rather than automatically visiting and living our lives through and on FB we need to ask ourselves if it is good for us. Does it make is happier or less happy? Happiness is, arguably, the prime goal of our existence.

The reason why I have asked these questions and why I doubt the benefits of FB is because a study indicates that giving up FB boosts happiness. It also reduces loneliness and anger. It is sounds implausible that leaving Facebook can make you less lonely but it can because it forces people to interact with others in the real world which is more satisfying and where the annoyances of FB no longer exist.

One reason why Facebook can cause these emotional problems is because it is a forum where users encounter “social comparisons” and these matter to people. People compare themselves with others on Facebook and this can lead to a feeling of inadequacy. Facebook regulars can present to the work an artificial aura of success and living a fantastic life full of great events. This can lead others to feelings of low self-esteem and failure. People can begin to feel that their lives are unfulfilled.

A test conducted by the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen indicated that “life satisfaction” rose significantly within the short time frame of a week when the participants stopped reading the updated news of their “friends”. FB “friends” are a bone of contention for many. FB have devalued the word “friend”.

Facebook can present a distorted view of “reality”. Often it is not the real world. The negative impact on FB with respect to life satisfaction was equivalent to about half the impact that being in the poorest 10 per cent had on life satisfaction compared to the richest 10 per cent. In other words quite significant.

I have a feeling that for many FB is a site they have to visit for work purposes or as a way of furthering a goal. It is not a place where they necessarily want to be.

Please comment here using either Facebook or WordPress (when available).
Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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  • Michael, facebook, for the most part, has been useful for me. As far as happiness, I don't let ANYTHING decide my happiness in life but me. . . I am able to keep in touch with family and friends. I never just read random posts on facebook. I only use the things that are my interests, plus I have mine set up so that I mainly only get posts that I want to see -- mostly cat things -- MOL!! ♥♥♥

    • Diane, you are a very organised person so manage FB really nicely which is the way it should be. Great to hear.

  • Good commentary (as usual) and comments. I envisioned youtube and facebook as means to find like-minded people, find information I wanted and further goals. I gave up on youtube and might on facebook, for the reasons Michael stated: that no matter how carefully I selected topics and friends, there's otherwise too much time and energy wasted via people's rancor, ignorance, selfishness and wrongdoing. I can't connect with enough good people or get a message out through all that noise and chaos.

    • Hi Albert. I find that a lot of FB is hollow, meaningless chatter that does not benefit humanity. It just benefits Facebook. Then there are the points made in the article. I only use FB to try and help promote PoC. But for that I'd ignore it.

  • While facebook can be offensive to some people who use it, i think that youtube is probably more offensive..something that one person thinks is funny, may be offensive to another person..I'm not an expert on this, but that is my experiance..?

  • What I like about FB is that it gives me an opportunity to participate in petitions, to receive and share valuable information, to see images I would not otherwise see, to join or start groups/pages to connect with like minded people, and a way to keep up with family/friends activities.

    I always considered the word friend as something I didn't use lightly, but FB has diluted that so much since it's used to identify strangers. I would think that "contact" would be a better word. It seems that many people, maybe mostly youth believe that the FB friends are significant.

    Comparisons and competition are an undesirable aspect of FB, and can seriously affect those with low self esteem or vulnerability to outside judgment.
    The thing that affects my feelings most is seeing cruelty to people or animals. but this is part of the reality we live in. Exposure can be a step in affecting change.

    It is sad that FB seems to have such low standards in what they consider acceptable posts, such as animal torture. Having such a large audience may encourage more of this distorted sense of fame.

    FB is like anything else that can be seen as negative, such as guns or money. The medium is not evil, but what matters is how it's used.

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