Study: Facebook quitters report more life satisfaction, less depression and anxiety

By Rob Beschizza

Facebook is designed to make you anxious, depressed and dissatisfied, three states of mind that make you more vulnerable to advertising and other forms of behavioral manipulation. Small wonder, then, that people who quit using Facebook report higher levels of life satisfaction and lower levels of depression and anxiety [pdf]. Bloomberg's article about the study is a few months old but one that should be revisited regularly between now and November.

People who deactivated Facebook as part of the experiment were happier afterward, reporting higher levels of life satisfaction and lower levels of depression and anxiety. The change was modest but significant — equal to about 25 to 40 percent of the beneficial effect typically reported for psychotherapy.

Why are people willing to pay so much money for something that reduces their happiness? One possibility is that social media acts like an addictive drug — in fact, the people Allcott et al. paid to deactivate Facebook ended up using it less after the experiment was over. But another possibility is that people use services like Facebook because they’re compelled by motivations other than the pursuit of happiness.