The advent of social networks on the internet has revolutionized the way we interact with friends and relations. These social networks allow for greater interaction within social circles. Facebook is the largest social interaction platform on the internet, with close to 500 million people using them every day. Facebook is a great tool that fulfills our social needs – psychological needs – a feeling of belonging to a social group or fostering intimate relationships with friends and family.
A study analysing people’s moods and Facebook use, however has yielded results that show that frequent use of Facebook actually led to declines in subjective well being.
82 young people were recruited for a study and participants completed questionnaires that measured their mood, self-esteem and social provisions. The participants were tracked over a 14 day period and they were texted messages that measured their subjective well being. The questions were
- How do you feel right now?
- How worried are you right now?
- How lonely do you feel right now?
- How much have you used Facebook since the last time we asked?
- How much have you interacted with other people directly since the last time we asked?
2 components of subjective well-being was measured in the study – how people feel moment to moment and how satisfied they are with their lives. The more lonely people felt at one point of time, the more they used Facebook. The researchers also found that Facebook use was not a proxy for loneliness. Facebook use continued to predict declines in affective well-being.
Measuring the participants level of direct social interaction showed that direct social contact led to increases in affective well being. As for Facebook use, the results prove otherwise. Participants felt less satisfied in life after using Facebook.
Social networks have allowed us to capture moments of our lives and share them with close relations or simply anyone with an internet connection. The invention of social networks has allowed us to be more connected than ever before buy why do interaction on social networks result in lower satisfaction in life?
The answer could lie in the way people use social networks to communicate. Facebook allows us to upload photos, post comments and share information with others, creating networks. People use Facebook in a very superficial social sense and could perhaps lead to the mentality of ‘keeping up with the Joneses’. The constant comparison of one’s current life situation with that of another’s could very well be stirring up feelings of impoverishedness.
Moreover social media interaction remains completely within the virtual realm. Social media cannot replace the physical aspect of relationships. As material creatures we interact with humans, animals, plants and our external environment with our senses. The physical and psychological needs of having long-lasting intimate relations can perhaps only be found in direct social contact. The results show that direct social interaction is still the best for human relations.