Recently social media giant Facebook admitted that “passive” use of their website is damaging to people’s mental health—making them “feel worse”.
Ironically, though, despite these revelations, the company bizarrely claimed that using the site MORE will actually improve well-being.
The news comes following Facebook’s former executive Chamath Palihapitiya who made headlines when he expressed that he felt “tremendous guilt” and that the site is contributing to “tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works.”
Mr. Palihapitiya continued by saying: “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth.”
Now, after ever more increasing studies and critiques of effects social media, companies like Facebook are attempting to counter these findings with their own evidence.
Researchers for Facebook documented in a blog-post that more engagement with friends and other people on the platform will make users feel better.
Facebook’s director of research Dave Ginsberg and research scientist Moira Burke wrote:
“According to the research, it really comes down to how you use the technology.
For example, on social media, you can passively scroll through posts, much like watching TV, or actively interact with friends — messaging and commenting on each other’s posts.
“Just like in person, interacting with people you care about can be beneficial, while simply watching others from the sidelines may make you feel worse.”
They then claimed that “actively interacting with people” is the solution to the problem:
“On the other hand, actively interacting with people — especially sharing messages, posts and comments with close friends and reminiscing about past interactions — is linked to improvements in well-being.
“This ability to connect with relatives, classmates, and colleagues is what drew many of us to Facebook in the first place, and it’s no surprise that staying in touch with these friends and loved ones brings us joy and strengthens our sense of community.”
The blog acknowledges that obsessing about what others do in their life and online is particularly harmful and may lead to “negative social comparison.”
The conclusion from their blog could mean that social media is only truly negative when the user is passively looking at how and what others are doing—as opposed to how much time an individual spends online—but is actually beneficial when you remain engaged in your own personal circle.
So is social media inherently bad for your health, or is it about the way it is used?
Either way, Facebook continues to concoct bizarre features in an attempt to make users’ experiences more pleasant.
Recently, they rolled out a “snooze” feature that allows you to silence a person or page for 30 days.
Additionally, they created something called “Take a Break”, which allows you to temporarily mute any posts by an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend—based on evidence suggesting that seeing posts from an ex can cause emotional suffering.