The best reason we’ve heard to spend less time on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Feeling alone? Then stop Instagramming every moment of your life.
The more time people spend on social media, the more likely it is they feel socially isolated, according to a study of more than 1700 people ages 19-32 published Monday in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Spend more than two hours a day swiping and scrolling — in this case sites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and Snapchat — and your risk of feeling socially isolated doubles, as compared to those who spent 30 minutes or less. Those who visited these sites 58 or more times per week (that’s a little over eight times a day) were three times more likely to feel socially isolated than those visiting less than nine times per week.
“We are inherently social creatures, but modern life tends to compartmentalize us instead of bringing us together,” says lead author Brian A. Primack, the director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health.
Just ask Nat Duncan, who deactivated his personal Facebook account in 2016. “Facebook made me feel lonely because I could see many (many) ‘friends’ on my account who I’d like to be (or continue to be) real friends with. You know – chat on the phone, go for coffee, invite over, receive invitations from, have dinner with, and go on holidays with,” he writes for The Sydney Morning Herald. “I’d begun to notice that the friends I’d had in the past who’d done this sort of thing (telephone calls, coffee, dinner, holidays, special events, even texts and emails) just had gone AWOL on the real friends activity roster.”
A recent Reddit thread on the topic details a similar phenomenon. As one user writes: “I’ve deleted most of my [social media] accounts … I would find myself scrolling through Instagram and Facebook for hours just looking at all my friends and how happy their lives are. Everyone seems to be living their lives to the fullest, and then there is me. It makes me feel so much worse about myself; knowing that I’m just sitting in front of a screen watching everyone else be happy while I am miserable.”
Of course, this study doesn’t prove that social media causes the feelings of isolation: “It may be that individuals who are already feeling socially isolated tend to subsequently use more social media,” the authors note. Facebook, Twitter, Snap and Google have not responded to a request for comment.
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