Featured Article: Is Social Media Bad for Us?

The average person is not going to delete every social media profile no matter what researchers tell us about social media, so what should we make of the many studies that tell us about the impact of social media?

Facebook is a favorite target of researchers, and some studies would lead us to believe that Facebook “causes” depression. However, it’s also possible that depressed people are more likely to use Facebook, which hardly helps matters. One compilation of these studies offers some insight into what we know, what we don’t know, and what we can be reasonably certain about when it comes to Facebook helps us dig a little deeper into its impact.

As we approach writing and prayer, social media is one of the many influences that can impact our moods, mindsets, and mental space for prayer or creative thought. Here are a few quotes to consider from the article:


“People who had taken a break from Facebook felt happier and were less sad and lonely,” an online presentation of the study said. Those on a Facebook “fast” also “reported a significantly higher level of satisfaction” and significantly less stress than those sentenced to remain on the site.


According to a 2013 research paper from Germany, for example, “upward social comparison and envy can be rampant” on Facebook and other social networks. The online environment promotes “narcissistic behavior,” the researchers found, “with most users sharing only positive things about themselves.” Among the 357 participants in the German studies, the researchers turned up a large number of what they called “envy-inducing incidents” — most frequently related to travel and leisure, social interactions and “happiness.”


A 2012 study found that posting status updates decreased loneliness, even when those updates elicited no response. And a 2010 study recorded moment-by-moment physiological responses when using Facebook. The equipment logged indicators of pleasant emotion when users actively sought out information or directly communicated with their Facebook friends, but fewer such positive feelings when passively browsing.


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