Feeling down? Consider giving social media a break

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

We mentioned Madonna's admonition to get more involved in the political process, but we didn't include another of her statements at an anti-Trump rally.

She said she had thought about blowing up the White House, which has reportedly piqued the interest of the Secret Service.

The celebrity may or may not have been serious, but if she really wanted to disrupt the new president's plans, she might consider hiring someone to hack his Twitter account.

Trump's relationship with the press has been more warfare than communication, largely because the candidate was able to send his message directly to the people via social media.

It's difficult to overstate the changes that are taking place thanks to Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and others.

In fact, if you've been feeling down, you might want to take a look at your Internet habits.

"Taking a break from Facebook has positive effects on two dimensions of well-being: our life satisfaction increases and our emotions become more positive," concluded Morton Tromholt, who studied the issue as part of his work toward a graduate degree in sociology at the University of Copenhagen.

People who gave up Facebook for just a week reported more positive emotions and a greater level of satisfaction with their life than did the people who continued to visit the site.

On a scale of 1 to 10 -- 10 being "very satisfied," -- the group that abstained from Facebook averaged 8.11 compared to 7.74 for the control group.

Assigned points for nine specific emotions -- enthusiasm, happiness, loneliness, life enjoyment, depressiveness, sadness, decisiveness, anger and worry -- the "treatment group" scored an average of 36.21 points compared to 33.99 of a possible total of 45 points.

The study had some limitations, such as involving mostly women, all Danish, and who all knew which group they were in. Thirteen percent of them admitted to cheating at least once during the study.

Still, you may recognize yourself in the types of Facebook users they were: heavy Facebook users who spend most of their time on the site, users who reported strong envy of their friends and their posts, and "passive" users who spend most of their time checking out other people's posts but seldom posting themselves.

Tromholt doesn't conclude you should give up the site completely, it's a useful way to keep in touch with far-flung family and friends.

But you might consider changing your habits -- actually talking to your friends, or click the "unfollow" feature on friends that affect your mood negatively.

You can check out the original complete study here: http://bit.ly/2jsTpfV

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