Facebook is depressing, a new study from the University of Michigan has found. It doesn't matter what a person's gender is or how many friends, likes or comments they receive on their profile, Facebook has the same depressing effect on their mood.
The study followed 82 college-aged volunteers (the core demographic of Facebook's more than 1 billion users), who rated their well-being and general life satisfaction five times a day for two weeks, the Los Angeles Times reported. The study found that the more these young people used Facebook, the more depressed they felt.
"We were able to show on a moment-to-moment basis throughout the day how people's mood fluctuated depending on their Facebook usage," wrote University of Michigan social psychologist Ethan Kross, lead author of the study, published online Wednesday in PLOS One. "We measured lots and lots of other personality and behavioral dimensions, like, for example, frequency of Facebook use. But none of the factors that we assessed influenced the results. The more you used Facebook, the more your mood dropped."
Despite the small sample size of this study, it adds to the group of studies that finds Facebook depressing. CNN noted that an early 2012 study from Utah Valley University found that checking Facebook sent people into a state of despair. The researchers interviewed 425 students and found a connection between the amount of time people spent checking Facebook and negative feelings about their own lives. The more time someone spent on the social network, the more likely they were to think their friends had better, happier lives.
In January, a study from Germany found that a third of people felt worse about their lives after spending time on Facebook. Seeing friend's updates on successful careers, babies and vacations elicited powerful feelings of envy, loneliness, and even rage.
But why would seeing our Facebook friends lead happy lives make us depressed?
Besides the fact that most of the several hundred people we have as Facebook friends aren't in fact our real life friends, people tend to put their best foot forward on Facebook and we're only seeing the exciting aspects of our friends' lives. It's like watching a highlight reel of the best moments of someone's life without having the boring bits to make a proper assessment. Of course, if we compare our own lives to someone's Facebook profile we're going to come away depressed.
Do you agree that Facebook is depressing? Let us know in the comments.