Does Facebook Make Us Unhappy?

This fascinating New Yorker article by Maria Konnikova surveys a number of recent studies about how Facebook affects users’ mood. Most of the studies argue that surfing Facebook tends to worsen our mood because it is a passive activity that often leads to jealousy regarding others’ lives. We are happy during the brief moments when we are writing and posting a status update, but the rest of our time on the site dissipates this pleasure. In other words, our time on Facebook often embodies the old bumper sticker that reads “Every time one of my friends succeeds, a little part of me dies.” How people use Facebook is so subjective that it is impossible to make conclusive statements about how it affects users, but the act of interrogating how it affects us is nevertheless an essential one. Konnikova’s article certainly makes me question how much time I spend on the site (generally between half an hour and an hour per day), and is worthwhile reading for anyone else who finds her- or himself making Facebook a central part of the day.

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