Scientists Show Facebook Is a Downer: Scientific American

Humans like being around other humans.  We are extraordinarily social animals.  In fact, we are so social, that simply interacting with other people has been shown to be use similar brain areas as those involved with the processing of very basic rewards such as food, suggesting that interacting with people tends to make us feel good.

However, it doesn’t take much reflection to notice that the way people interact with each other has radically changed in recent years.  Much of our contact happens not face-to-face, but rather while staring at screen-based digital representations of each other, with Facebook being the most prominent example.  This raises a very fundamental question – how does online interaction with other people differ from interacting with people in person?

One possible way these two interaction styles might differ is through how rewarding we find them to be.  Does interacting with Facebook make us feel good as does interacting with people in real life?  A recent paper suggests that the answer is “probably not.”  In fact, the data from this paper suggest that the more we interact with Facebook, the worse we tend to feel.

via Scientists Show Facebook Is a Downer: Scientific American.

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2 thoughts on “Scientists Show Facebook Is a Downer: Scientific American

  1. This article is really interesting; especially for me. This conversation has come up multiple times in the course of my college career. While the article suggests that the more we use Facebook, the worse we tend to feel, in my classes we’ve talked about how personal face-to-face interactions are being replaced with online interactions and how this could have potential negative affects on the person.

    For me, because I am quite shy and timid, I find social media beneficial and helpful with my personal interactions. I find it kind of hard to communicate with people I barely know or am just getting to know face-to-face so social media gives me a way to build the relationship. For example, two of the people I got to know my freshman year of college were because I was able to connect to them via Facebook and get to know them while also seeing them in class and talking to them then.

    Another reason I personally can’t relate to this article is because I feel like Facebook gives me a way to keep my relationship with people who don’t live near me. While I could see how this could make people more upset because it reminds them they can’t see people that live far away, I still think it’s beneficial because we can have contact with them very easily and we can see what they’ve been up to just by getting on Facebook.

    Now, if someone were to completely replace their face-to-face interactions with online interactions, then it is quite apparent how your happiness could slowly decline. Humans need that face-to-face interaction, we can’t just hide behind the computer.

  2. I also believe that people who use social media more often than others are usually less satisfied with their life. The times in my life that I have used social media more often than other times in my life are times where my life was pretty boring. I strongly believe that my friends on social media that spend more time on social media than most of my other friends generally have pretty boring lives. I notice that a lot of people I know who attend a community college tend to use social media more often than people I know who attend a university.

    There is a noticeable difference between the people I know that use social media more than other people I know. Most of the people I know that rely on social media more than others usually didn’t even attend college. I believe that people who have fulfilling lives generally don’t use social media that frequently. I personally feel like spending too much time on social media is a waste of time and steals quality time where I could be doing something productive.

    I strongly believe that social media can become addicting because it acts as a reward system in the human brain. When you get attention on social media, it feels good. I know people who have argued over the number of likes they received on a Facebook post. It is sometimes shocking how excited some people get when people like their post on social media. I personally can’t stand it and wish those people would just get a life. I think there is a distinct difference between social media and the real world.

    I truly believe that social media is antisocial and I never felt a real connection communicating with people over social media. I feel like social media complicates relationships at times and can make people act differently from the way they act in person. Social media provides some people with a false sense of comfort and can lead people to say weird things. I feel like lonely people try to establish strong relationships over social media like Facebook and females are especially vulnerable to creeps trying to connect with them over social media. For example, my younger sister has explained to me that extremely weird guys she hasn’t even talked to in person will try to message her daily until she blocks them. The weirdest part is that these guys weren’t completely random guys she just accepted friend requests from. These are guys she knew of that went to our high school that have tried messaging her years after high school! Not to sound rude but that sounds very desperate and lonely to me.

    Overall, I agree with the article in the sense that it is better to interact with someone in person rather than over social media. In extreme cases, I feel like social media can consume people to the point where they don’t feel normal without using it daily. In my opinion, it’s better to be aware of how often you spend time on social media before it becomes a problem.

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