01 July 2014 by

Does Facebook Really Have The Power To Make Us Depressed?

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It goes without saying that the world of social media has made us just a touch more narcissistic. With selfies and self congratulatory statuses we have just about come to terms with the idea that we're all filtering our lives for the benefit of our dedicated social following (Hi, Mum!) 
 
But beyond that, is it actually manipulating our mood? I'm not just talking about plain old annoyance at the amount of candy crush invites or the flurry of engagement announcements – which I admit is phone-smashingly irritating.

Unless you have been avoiding the news and um, your Facebook newsfeed, you will have seen that over the past few days the social network has admitted conducting a psychological experiment on more than 700,000 unsuspecting users. For one week in 2012, Facebook skewed the newsfeeds of ‘participants’ by showing either 'happier' or 'sadder' posts than normal whilst recording the effect this had on their own social behaviours. The results apparently showed that ‘emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness.’
 
I'm not going to get into how creepy and wrong that is (FOR SHAME, MARK ZUCKERBERG) instead what I want to know is while the study was of course intrusive, are the results a wake up call for us all?
 
At first it’s shocking to think we are so easily influenced but when you think about it, is it really surprising? It's the first thing you look at on a morning and the last thing you read at night. With 24 million Brits logging on every day, it’s no wonder it has an effect on our emotions.
 
Now before we go revisiting the simple days when snake was the only app on your mobile (how awesome was that game?!) should we instead be taking who we are friends with and who we follow on Facebook more seriously?
 
I currently have 904 friends on Facebook. Aside from looking incredibly popular this also makes me look like a fraud to anyone that knows me. I can count my real friends on one hand, ok maybe two hands, but certainly not 181 (I did the math) The point being, none of those 10 BBFs or immediate family members stress me out on my nightly Facebook stalk.
 
And when I'm scrolling through endless and essentially meaningless updates from the friend of a friend’s Aunty about her IBS and relationship issues, is it really something I can block out or is it actually affecting my mood?
 
So, what do you think?
 
Should we be saying thank you to Facebook, for trying to manipulate our emotions?  In being so creepy, they’ve actually made us rethink who we chose to 'friend' on Facebook…or have they just unwittingly brought us one step close to reaching for the 'deactivation' button?


Comments

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Joy Heslop (Wed Jul 02 14:08:32 BST 2014): I wouldn't say depressed but FB certainly creates a feeling of others are having better life than you, as with alot of social networking that status update is just a moments snapshot of somebodies life, i have deleted most people of my Facebook who i never and will never speak to in real life and who also know nothing of my daily life. I miss chatting face to face with my friends and after talking to most of my friends they feel the same...
Victoria Goodfellow (Thu Jul 03 09:51:25 BST 2014): I'm just mad that I can't follow all the things I like and have to manually go onto pages like Mrs Browns Boys. While getting adverts for crap things I don't want on my feed. There always moving the goal posts in terms of privacy and their updates have destroyed my phone to the point where it wiped itself.
Rachel Robinson (Thu Jul 03 18:33:05 BST 2014): Hi Joy, I had to take a back step from it after I felt annoyed about a few of these viral posts that go round, I just dont think some people know what its like in the real world.....so for now I just try and take it with a pinch of salt and delete the stuff I find offencive xx