In the short term, do without Facebook reduces the level of cortisol, the stress hormone. But leaving the social network is not a source of increased well-being ...
What if you offered yourself a vacation away from Facebook? It's cheaper than the Bahamas, and maybe as effective ... Anyway, that's what a recent Australian study, published in the Journal of Social Psychology. After tracking 138 active users of the social network (students), and asked half of them to take a Facebook break of a week, the researchers observed a reduction in the level of cortisol, the stress hormone.
Where things get complicated is that psychologists have also assessed the subjective well-being of these voluntary abstainers. And far from feeling the positive effects of a reduction in stress, they were on average less satisfied with their lives after their weekly break, than when they could sail freely on the social network. face
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
"It seems like people stop Facebook when they're too stressed and then go back when they feel unhappy about losing touch with their friends," says Eric Vanman, a psychologist at the University of Queensland, Australia, who is the first author of 'study. This ambivalence illustrates the deep dynamic of the social network: if it generates stress and scatter of attention, it has become so essential to the maintenance of a social life that to do without is a challenge.
It's not easy, therefore, to implement his digital weaning projects. Unless you're imaginative ... and again. "To stay away from Facebook and resist the temptation to come back, one of my students asked a friend to change her password," says Eric Vanman. "But she finally broke down and asked her friend for a new password after two months. "
Another study, conducted in 2016 at the University of Copenhagen on 1095 participants, had given the opposite results: as their week of abstinence, the participants seemed to feel more happy. Should we see a difference of personality between the average young Danish and the Australian student in psychology, or a differentiated use of the social network?
The pangs of social comparison
Because the different modes of use of Facebook seem to have separate effects, if not competitors, on mental health. In the long run, it seems clear that social comparison can have a deleterious influence on the level of well-being. Contemplating holiday photos in Bali from a crowded RER, or witnessing a friend's professional success when one stagnates at RSA is - strangely - not the best way to feel happy in one's life.
But Facebook is also very used to maintain the link and chat with friends, and this aspect properly communicational is less and less an option when one wishes to maintain a satisfactory social life, at least for certain age groups. This is true for all social networks, not just for the most famous of them.
Still, a small break from time to time probably can not hurt. In a poll conducted in late 2012 by the Pew Research Center (telephone survey, 1006 people), 61% of US Facebook users said they had already taken "Facebook holidays", giving up the use of the network. for a few weeks or more.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal
The social network is currently scandal across the Atlantic. The New York Times and The Guardian revealed that Cambridge Analytica has acquired data from more than 50 million Facebook users to provide targeted ads for Donald Trump during the presidential campaign. The operation, convoluted but legal, is an electroshock for the American public, which suddenly realizes the power of the big data.
As for Facebook, it faces fierce criticism for its reaction to the case, considered minimal and ambivalent. A rejection that even led to the launch of a movement #DeleteFacebook ("delete Facebook") on other social networks. An opportunity to seize?