Danish study: Facebook lurking makes you miserable

“Facebook lurking makes you miserable, says study,” BBC News reports after a Danish study found regular users who took a week-long break from the social media site reported increased wellbeing.

The one-week trial assigned Facebook users to either give up using the site for a week, or go on using it usual.

They were then asked about their emotions and life satisfaction both before and after quitting Facebook.

Researchers also compared the effect of quitting between heavier and lighter Facebook users.

The study found heavy Facebook users experienced a greater increase in satisfaction with their life when not using it for a week, compared with less heavy users.

The author of the study suggests Facebook use may induce feelings of envy and dissatisfaction because users compare themselves with others when scrolling through posts and photos – a practice known as “lurking”, described in one paper as “scrolling through endless photos of Sandra’s new Gucci handbag”.

This sounds reasonable, but in an unblinded study people were aware of what they were being asked to do.

This means it’s possible that their expectations of a benefit from not using Facebook might have translated into how they reported their satisfaction.

Facebook certainly isn’t all bad: it allows you to connect with far-flung friends and family over the festive period. But it’s no substitute for actual face-to-face interaction.

Read more about how connecting with others can improve wellbeing.

Where did the story come from?

The study was carried out by one researcher from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. There were no external sources of funding.

It was published in the peer-reviewed journal Cyberphysiology, Behaviour and Social Networking, and is available on an open access basis, so it’sfree to read online.

UK media coverage around this study was generally balanced, albeit quite focused on the negative effects of using Facebook over Christmas – but this isn’t what the study looked at. And the study was actually published at the beginning of November.

Reports also focused on lurking on Facebook as opposed to using it to engage in conversation with others. While the practice of lurking was discussed in the study, there was no research into what effects it may have.

Read the rest HERE

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