Why Facebook makes you sad and Zuckerberg glad

By Carole Hornsby Haynes

Thousands of studies have reported that most humans thrive when they have positive relationships with other humans. However, these studies have been done with face-to-face social relationships. Now an important study about online relationships has been reported in the Harvard Business Review, “Association of Facebook Use With Compromised Well-Being: A Longitudinal Study.” The study finds the use of Facebook is negatively associated with overall well-being, especially in mental health.

The researchers investigated the associations of Facebook activity and real-world social network activity with self-reported physical health, self-reported mental health, self-reported life satisfaction and body mass index. Not only was the use of Facebook negatively associated with well-being, but increased access to Facebook made the user feel worse.

The use of social media reduces time for face-to-face relationships, leads to Internet addiction, reduces time for meaningful activities, increases sedentary time and erodes self-esteem through negative social comparison by users, according to findings.

Dr. Larry Rosen, a psychology professor who specializes in research on the impact of technology on people, reported in a study that too much time spent on Facebook by teens could result in narcissism; psychological disorders, such as anti-social behaviors and mania and aggressive tendencies; and higher absenteeism from school with higher tendency to get stomachaches, have sleep issues, and feel more anxious and depressed.

Middle and high school and college students who regularly checked Facebook tended to have lower grades. The more frequent users often had the lowest rates of reading retention.

A direct link has been established between the number of Facebook friends and the extent to which a user is a “socially disruptive” narcissist. Negative comments about them that are made on Facebook public walls trigger a more aggressive response by narcissists. The research finds that today’s youth are increasingly trending toward narcissistic behavior with self-absorption and shallow friendships.

The American Academy of Pediatrics warns about “Facebook Depression” and its effect on teens. Boston area pediatrician Dr. Gwenn O’Keefe said there are “unique aspects of Facebook that can make it a particularly tough social landscape to navigate for kids already dealing with poor self-esteem.”

The Sun, a United Kingdom publication, reports a highly disturbing trend of murder and suicide on Facebook Live videos that can last up to four hours. Here are two of the ghastly events reported by The Sun.

And what is Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and CEO of Facebook, doing about the violence on Facebook? He is hiring more staff to police content.

Kenrick and Bodford report that while Facebook has benefits, it also carries psychological costs including the false consensus created by Facebook leading you “to believe that your favorite political candidate is a shoe-in for the upcoming election, even though many of your friends are saying otherwise … you just won’t hear them.” Because Facebook users are primarily in the age range of 18-34, this has critical implications for them as voters.

In the 2016 presidential election, 18-25-year-olds voted overwhelmingly for the Democratic ticket. They believed that Hillary Clinton was a sure-fire winner and still cannot cope with the victory of Donald Trump as evidenced with riots and protests by the snowflakes across the nation’s college campuses.

Deep concerns over the use of Facebook are expressed by Fodeman and Monroe in “The Impact of Facebook on Our Students”:

  • Use of Facebook requires inordinate amount of bandwidth;
  • students as early as the fourth grade are allowed access to adult social networks;
  • socializing on Facebook requires a vast amount of time at the expense of other activities/tasks;
  • being wired 24/7 is creating screen addiction;
  • students feel a false sense of privacy so they post embarrassing and harmful information;
  • students are tricked into “friending” strangers who then gain access to personal information which can include password codes to parents’ financial and credit card accounts;
  • teens are lured into online scams with fake websites where purchases are billed to parents’ credit cards;
  • children are increasingly using technology, including Facebook, to avoid difficult face-to-face conversations; and
  • by not building face-to-face relationships, children’s socialization skills are being negatively affected.

According to Mark Zuckerberg, the average Facebook user spends 50 minutes daily on the site, up from 40 minutes in 2014. Not surprisingly, Facebook is actively working to increase that viewing time. Have you ever wondered why you are hounded by ads from your previous online searches? It’s because Facebook is tailoring its News Feed to your needs and interests based on the posts you read. The longer you are on Facebook, the more data that can be collected about your for greater ad effectiveness. More user time equals more money for the corporate bottom line.

Facebook’s strategy to get us on their platform more often and longer must be working. The net annual income for 2016 was $10.19 billion with 1.94 billion monthly active users as of the first quarter in 2017. The well-being of the people be damned. Facebook needs more ad revenue – more billions for the shareholders and, of course, Mark Zuckerberg.

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