Is Facebook Making You Happier?

… [T]he world of constant connectivity and media, as embodied by Facebook, is the social network’s worst enemy: in every study that distinguished the two types of Facebook experiences—active versus passive—people spent, on average, far more time passively scrolling through newsfeeds than they did actively engaging with content. This may be why general studies of overall Facebook use … so often show deleterious effects on our emotional state. Demands on our attention lead us to use Facebook more passively than actively, and passive experiences, no matter the medium, translate to feelings of disconnection and boredom.

– “How Facebook Makes Us Unhappy” by Maria Konnikova, The New Yorker, September 10, 2013

Is Facebook a good thing? In one sense, yes: as a parent of two little kids with no time to spare, it gives me an easy way to keep track of what my friends are doing. But Facebook has also devalued the concept of “friendship”: the bar to become “friends” and the effort that one has to invest in “friendships” are now so low that the word has lost much of its meaning. I also find myself passively peering at Facebook, not “engaging with content” as these studies recommend. (Truth be told, people who are “engaged” on Facebook scare me.) I worry about the impact Facebook will have on my kids and their ability to foster relationships with others. As remarkable as it is that we can now keep track of everybody in our lives, there is a cost to our dependence on Facebook, and this amount is growing with every passing day.

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