Quitting This One Thing Could Make You Happier


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The thought of giving up social media might be laughable to some. Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are so integrated into our lives that it's difficult to imagine ourselves living without them. Even if we don't consider ourselves addicted to the platforms, we engage with them so often that cutting them out completely would require breaking a hard habit. Scrolling through our news feeds is second nature, and we're constantly consuming content without consciously meaning to.

Still, you may have noticed some of your friends departing from certain platforms, and every time a celebrity makes an exit, it makes the news. Most recently, Kendall Jenner, who owes much of her fame and success to her massive social media following, deleted her Instagram for a bit of a breather. (Ed. note: She's back on.) When you realize you've lost whole hours thumbing through Facebook posts, regularly lose yourself in Instagram black holes, and step away from social media feeling significantly less satisfied with life, you might question whether a self-imposed break could be good for you. Scientists have been wondering the same thing and recently published a study in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking that suggests everything you've suspected.

Danish researcher Morten Tromholt recruited just over a thousand participants via Facebook and randomly assigned them two conditions. One group was instructed not to use Facebook for the duration of one week (only 87% successfully made it), and the other group was told to continue using the site as they pleased. The treatment group that abstained from Facebook use reported higher "life satisfaction" and more positive emotions than the control group, though Neuroskeptic, who highlighted this study, notes that these effects were relatively small (a difference of just 0.37 on a scale of 1 to 10), thus asserting that the study doesn't say all that much.

The fact that participants were not only self-selecting but also self-reporting certainly skews the data, and the premise of the study might even encourage a placebo effect among the treatment group. Still, if you're in need of that extra push to finally commit to a digital detox, this could be enough incentive to finally give it a go.

Have you ever given up social media? How did it make you feel? Tell us about it!