Social networks allow instant access to friends and family, and let you show the world what’s going on in your life. Maybe a bit narcissistic, but harmless. Studies, however, have been all over the place on the question of whether SNS (social networking systems) are “good” or “bad” for individuals and society. Are we more connected than ever or more disconnected than ever? A recent study by the Public Library of Science went with the bad news: it found that the more you use Facebook, the more miserable you’ll be.
A recent article in The Economist describes the work of Ethan Kross of the University of Michigan, and Philippe Verduyn of Leuven University in Belgium. In response to generally short-term, “cross-sectional” studies of SNS, their study was done over an extended period of time. Subjects would answer surveys reporting their mental and emotional states multiple times a day. The more they were on Facebook, the more they reported being dissatisfied with life.
Others studies have associated the use of social networks like Facebook with depression, social tension, and envy. The article states:
Endlessly comparing themselves with peers who have doctored their photographs, amplified their achievements and plagiarised their bons mots can leave Facebook’s users more than a little green-eyed.
On a positive note, the same study found that the more in-person contact the subject had, the more satisfied they were. Digital dualism aside, a well-rounded life of on- and off-line interaction—that good old “moderation”—seemed to do the trick.