It’s official: you’re happier without Facebook

If you read any article about Facebook, you’ll inevitably find someone in the comments boasting about how they don’t use it any more and their life has never been better. At the very least you can testify that without an endless stream of grinning babies and identikit pets hogging their attention, they’ve freed up enough time to tell everyone how little they miss Facebook.

It’s official: you’re happier without Facebook

But here’s the kicker: these people might be right, according to a new Danish study from the Happiness Research Institute. The study took 1,095 regular Facebook users and asked half of the participants to go cold turkey for a week. The upshot was that people who take part in the daily grind of liking, sharing and poking are 55% more likely to feel stressed than their Facebook-free friends, who had better concentration to boot.

The main cause, the researchers suggest, is the braggy nature of social media, where everybody only shares the best of their life. The upshot: we end up feeling jealous and extremely aware of our own shortcomings. As Happiness Research Institute CEO Meik Wiking

told The Guardian, “Facebook is a constant bombardment of everyone else’s great news, but many of us look out of the window and see grey skies and rain, especially in Denmark.”facebook_like_stamp

“This makes the Facebook world, where everyone’s showing their best side, seem even more distortedly bright by contrast, so we wanted to see what happened when users took a break.” This social media envy was pretty stark, the researchers found, with half of participants envious of others experiences, a third jealous of others’ happiness, and four in ten envious of their friends’ success (they should probably steer clear of LinkedIn.)

So, let’s look at the raw data. The main metric was life satisfaction, marked on a scale between one and ten. Before the test, both groups averaged pretty similar levels (7.67 vs 7.75), but after a week the group without Facebook had soared to a lead of 8.12 to 7.56. The researchers then assessed the participants’ emotions, and as you can see, the participants who stayed away from Facebook seem a whole lot better off:

How did participants feel?
Mood Facebook users Non-Facebook users
Happy 81% 88%
Sad 34% 22%
Worried 54% 41%
Angry 20% 12%
Enjoying life 75% 84% 
Enthusiastic 49% 61%
Depressed 33% 22%
Lonely 25% 16%
Decisive 56% 64%

In other words, not only are we a bunch of green-eyed monsters railing against our so-called friends’ happiness, but they’re also most likely making their grass appear extra green to hide their own social networking sadness.

So next time you feel jealous of someone on Facebook, remember this: if their life was really so damned great, they’d probably be living it rather than talking it up.

Sometimes, of course, it’s Facebook doing the experiments on its users’ happiness…

Images: Scott Moses and Denis Dervisevic used under Creative Commons

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