- The use of Facebook contributes to the levels of stress hormone cortisone.
- The study required participants to not use Facebook for five days.
The Journal of Social Psychology has just published the findings of a research regarding the use of social media. It was done by the University of Queensland in Australia. They have proven the fact that Facebook, does, in fact, affect one’s stress levels. They found that it changes the cortisone, a stress hormone in the human body. In spite of the reduction in levels of cortisol, they observed a fall in the participants’ well-being.
The study specifically focuses on Facebook. However, the researchers believe that the same concept applies to other social media platforms, depending on the individuals.
Eric Vanman, lead author of the study has conveyed his reasons to Newsweek.
“I believe that our findings are probably not unique to Facebook. Some of my own students constantly check Instagram and Snapchat during my lectures, so I’m guessing that extending our research to other platforms would [show] similar effects.”
Participants only had to put off going on Facebook for five days. This may not sound difficult, but these participants were amongst the most active users of Facebook.
In the course of the study, however, participants have expressed their desire to use Facebook again. In conjunction with this, the researchers have observed positive emotions in users who are on these social media platforms. According to Newsweek, the use of social media seemingly generates “feelings of support and connectedness” as well as “positive interactions”. This, in turn, reduces the risks of feeling depressed and anxious.
However, in an era where professionals have coined the term “commodity fetishism”, even positive feelings could be artificial. In fact, commodity fetishism tells us that the obsession with commodities is just a method that the system of capitalism employs to keep the people in check. Said commodities can be replaced by social media in this case.
To clarify, the system uses a manipulative scheme to fabricate a false sense of positive feelings in order to prevent the people from questioning the injustice of the system. You may wonder how they have managed to do so, or if it is possible at all. Well, you see, through mass media, commodities are advertised with a specific selling point. In this way, they create an association between the objects and certain entities like social class or status. As such, it gives people a false sense of control, which leads to a psychological satisfaction.
In a society where the method of compartmentalization is used to maintain order, entities, ranging from objects to human beings, people’s mentality has been indoctrinated with a desire to belong to a certain group. The system has linked certain commodities to elements associated with different groups of people (i.e. branded stuff reveals a higher social class etc.).
From the same study, Vanman observes that the discontentment shown by the participants and concludes that it was due to a feeling of detachment. This is because the people around them, friends and family, were still on Facebook. In this way, they feel as though they were missing out. Consequently, this feeling has resulted in further stress in the individuals.
Once again, we could easily inspect this through the idea of commodity fetishism. Through social media platforms, users get the sense that they are well-informed on the ongoing around them. This generates a false sense of omniscient and leads you to believe that you have everything in check, the feeling of knowing.
Of course, experience and education tell us that what you see is not always true. People have learned to fabricate information and pictures such that nothing you find on the internet can be a hundred percent trusted.
Due to the duration of the study, the results could most likely be drastically improved by lengthening the duration of study, as Vanman believes.
“We would like to run a longer-term study as a follow-up. It will be difficult to do, however, as we would have to provide an incentive for participants to cut themselves off completely from their social media.”
He could be right.
Three years ago, there was a study in Denmark that had a significantly larger sample of a thousand Facebook users. They were cut off from Facebook for a full week. As they expected, participants were reported to have felt more positive feelings and an increased satisfaction towards their lives.