As a major part of our lives today, social media plays a leading role in everything we do. From finding out what our friends are doing to prospecting for employment, we use social media for most things today. Some of us have essentially replaced common functions like reading the newspaper using a social media app.
However, the fact that it’s always online, always live time and always updating means it’s hard to pull ourselves away. So, with that in mind, a team of researchers at New York University and Stanford University worked together to carry out a social media detox.
They paid a team of participants to take time off of social media entirely. They were paid a fee to cut off from social media for 24/7, going under what was known as a ‘Facebook detox’ – and the results were actually quite insane.
Around $100/month was paid to 2,844 people to help them feel an incentive to give up on Facebook. Deactivating their accounts, those researchers were soon presented with some pretty startling information. People were expected to carry this out for 4-8 weeks and produced some amazing results.
For one, those involved tended to feel like they were genuinely happier. Being less informed about political news and general current events gave them a sense of freedom. It also made it easier for them to make time for ‘old’ social activities, like meeting up with people in person. It also helped to reduce depression and anxiety within most of those who took part. Perhaps most importantly, the majority stopped feeling such a consistent sense of dismay and outrage.
With some people capable of spending 10+ hours per day on social media, it’s clear why some of us need to take a step back. Indeed, many people even rejected the financial incentive to take a step back, convinced they wouldn’t be able to live without that constant stream of information about everyone and everything.
A change in tone
Interestingly, another find was that people were far less polarised in their viewpoints. Without the echo chamber that most of us live within on social media, people were able to be much more open-minded about how – and why – they spoke to or listened to a certain person.
Therefore, the fact that many of those stepping back found it easier to be more open about potential people and sources of information can only be a good thing.
Social media, it has been shown, has quite the impact on our day-to-day mental health. As such, it can be quite tough to work out where we are going in life. A Facebook detox might be hard, but it’s something that we should all try for a while. Unplugging from the constant news, aggravation and frustration of the social media world could be something that everyone can benefit from.
If you think it might be worth a try for yourself, then don’t hold back. Give it a shot: you, too, might find yourself thinking freer and feeling better!