Unfriending Facebook

A decade after the social network’s launch, Nicholas Tufnell has given up on the site, explaining that “there’s something about the relentless happiness of people on Facebook that I find monstrous”:

Everyone is apparently always somewhere better than I am and what’s more, they’re having a brilliant time.  My life is not like that. In reality, no one’s life is like that, these are of course constructed narratives, our “best ofs” — but sometimes it’s hard to reason to yourself that these people aren’t having fun all the time when all you ever see of them is pictures of them having fun all the time. I suddenly start to feel pangs of inadequacy and jealousy… and these people are supposed to be my friends. In this regard, Facebook is truly poisonous.

Some research indicates that Facebook may really lower the spirits of users:

[L]ast summer, a team of psychologists from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and the University of Leuven in Belgium decided to drill a bit deeper by evaluating how life satisfaction changes over time with Facebook use. Ethan Kross and colleagues questioned a group of people five times a day over two weeks about their emotional state. They asked questions such as “how do you feel right now?”, “how lonely do you feel right now?”, “how much have you used Facebook since we last asked?” and so on. This gave them a snapshot of each individual’s well-being and Facebook usage throughout the day.

The team found that Facebook use correlated with a low sense of well-being. “The more people used Facebook over two-weeks, the more their life satisfaction levels declined over time,” they said. “Rather than enhancing well-being … these findings suggest that Facebook may undermine it.”

Maria Konnikova examines common motivations for quitting Facebook:

At the University of Texas at Austin, [psychologist Sam] Gosling and one of his graduate students, Gabriella Harari, have been examining why people decide to leave Facebook. They have found three broad themes: people see Facebook as pointless and unnecessary, they see it as a problematic distraction, and they are worried about privacy. As you experience a constant stream of updates from more people, the possibilities for distraction or frustration at a pointless update (did I really need to know that her baby is now teething?) rise apace. And as you share more information with more people, it all becomes a window into who you are—even the parts you might prefer to keep private. The more publicly we form and affirm social bonds—and the more people we form and affirm them with—the more likely we are to see our mental bandwidth filled and our privacy eroded.