Thought I was feelin’ just fine; happy, diggin’ the summer and the digital spaces but, apparently, we ain’t doin’ so great according to academic studies.
It’s weird, I know. I coulda sworn life was pretty darn good. The weather is terrific. I’m in love. I’m healthy and keepin’ busy with lots of projects, staying in touch with friends near and far, learnin’ all kinds of interesting stuff I read and watch on the dubya-dubya-dubya.
But this study published by researchers at Yale University and the University of California tells me I have that all wrong. The researchers say I spend too much time on the social media – and in particular Facebook – and, as a result, I’m all sad and gloomy. My mental and physical health is deteriorating.
Dammit. And I was just started to dig it all.
“Our results showed that overall, the use of Facebook was negatively associated with well-being,” explained the researchers in their study’s abstract.
“For example, a 1-standard-deviation increase in “likes clicked” (clicking “like” on someone else’s content), “links clicked” (clicking a link to another site or article), or “status updates” (updating one’s own Facebook status) was associated with a decrease of 5%–8% of a standard deviation in self-reported mental health. These associations were robust to multivariate cross-sectional analyses, as well as to 2-wave prospective analyses. The negative associations of Facebook use were comparable to or greater in magnitude than the positive impact of offline interactions, which suggests a possible tradeoff between offline and online relationships.”
Well, okay. I guess if I’m being honest with myself I would have to admit – at least from time to time – I do feel five to eight percent off. But I thought that’s mostly when I read headlines out of Washington.
Or when I read psycho-speak over-analysis like in the Yale-Berkeley study abstract.
And if that’s not enough to darken one’s mood, another study – conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health and the Young Health Movement – concludes only YouTube is good for young people. Instagram and Snapchat, especially, can be deleterious to young people’s mental health
The study actually addresses a very serious concern: too much anxiety in the lives of young people.
“Research suggests that young people who are heavy users of social media – spending more than two hours per day on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram – are more likely to report poor mental health, including psychological distress (symptoms of anxiety and depression),” concludes the report.
“Seeing friends constantly on holiday or enjoying nights out can make young people feel like they are missing out while others enjoy life. These feelings can promote a ‘compare and despair’ attitude in young people. Individuals may view heavily photo-shopped, edited or staged photographs and videos and compare them to their seemingly mundane lives.
“The findings of a small study, commissioned by Anxiety UK supported this idea and found evidence of social media feeding anxiety and increasing feelings of inadequacy. The unrealistic expectations set by social media may leave young people with feelings of self-consciousness, low self-esteem and the pursuit of perfectionism which can manifest as anxiety disorders.
“Use of social media, particularly operating more than one social media account simultaneously, has also been shown to be linked with symptoms of social anxiety.”
As we say, the study really is quite serious and addresses the very serious concerns of anxiety for young people who, in a perfect world and the world we wish we had, could grow up happy, safe and free from worry. At least until that first car or mortgage payment is due.
Lord knows the world has its problems. The problems are massive and overwhelming and hardly any have anything at all to do with social media. But, somehow, they never quite seem to get solved. And, yet, we struggle on.
That God we have YouTube.