For most of us, it’s unlikely that a day goes by where we don’t check our social media pages. Although this seems like a perfectly harmless way to pass the time, researchers are now warning that social media distorts our perception of reality and that we’d actually be much happier without it.
As the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are increasingly being blamed for the rising rates of depression, anxiety and eating disorders amongst it’s audiences, more research is being done to determine whether or not social media can really be blamed for this.
The latest research comes from a study which was carried out at the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. 94% of the participants said that they checked Facebook daily prior to the study. One group was told to continue using Facebook as they normally would and the other group was told to stop using it for a week.
At the end of the week, participants were asked to evaluate their life satisfaction which was compared to the rating they had given at the start of the experiment. It was found that the group who continued to use Facebook initially gave a score of 7.67 (out of 10) and this marginally increased to 7.75 by the end of the week.
The group who didn’t check the site for a week however found their overall happiness rating increase from 7.56 to 8.12. Furthermore, these participants were found to be more decisive and enthusiastic and they also reported feeling less worried, lonely and stressed compared to those who continued to use Facebook.
The CEO of the Happiness Research Institute, Meik Wiking commented:
“Facebook distorts our perception of reality and of what other people’s lives really look like. We take into account how we’re doing in life through comparisons to everyone else and since most people only post positive things on Facebook, that gives us a very biased perception of reality. “
Wiking asserted that there are of course positive benefits associated with social media but reminded people to always be aware of the effect it has on our perception of reality if we don’t want it to bring us down.
Seeing our friends and colleagues doing well in life is of course a good thing and is even likely to bring us happiness but remember, the constant flow of great news we see on social media represents a small proportion of what is actually going on in people’e lives. We don’t hear about the bad day they had, the argument they had with their partner, the scolding they got from their boss or the sleepless night they had with their newborn so it’s important to remember not to use it as a tool to evaluate your own life.
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