A study forced people to quit Facebook to see if it made them happier

I wish I knew how to quit you.
I wish I knew how to quit you.
Image: Reuters/Dado Ruvic
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Can staying off Facebook make you happier? Apparently so.

Researchers from the ridiculous-sounding Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen recruited 1,095 daily Facebook users to look at the impact of the social network on happiness. They first looked at everyone’s usual Facebook behavior and found 94% visited Facebook as part of a daily routine. They split the participants into two groups; one was allowed to access Facebook and use it as normal, while the other group was forced to quit cold turkey.

After a single week, the group forced to quit Facebook reported feeling more satisfied with their life. Researchers found that 88% of those who were forced to give up Facebook felt “happy,” compared with 81% of those who were still on the site.

The group not on Facebook enjoyed life more, was less angry, and more enthusiastic. The group also saw an increase in their social activity and their satisfaction with their social life. The group that still regularly used Facebook was 55% more likely to feel stressed. Researchers suggest that as Facebook highlights the best of everyone’s life, people on the site end up focusing on what other people have, which may explain why users felt less happy after regularly using the site.

That said, the results are based on self-reported answers; while researchers found a link between happiness and quitting Facebook, it’s not a causal relationship. Researchers hope to further investigate whether the positive feeling participants felt after quitting Facebook could last more than a week.

But there could be something to it.

Earlier this month, an Australian teenager with more than half a million followers on Instagram quit social media, describing it as “contrived perfection made to get attention” in an emotional video. She condemned the “unhealthy” ideals she and other celebrities were promoting on social media.