Sure, maybe Facebook puts you in a filter bubble and helped make Donald Trump president, but you and a billion other people dutifully sign on every single goddamn day. If you have a feeling that getting away from all those fruitless political arguments and insipid food videos would be healthy, I’ve got just the study for you.
Published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking and highlighted by the canny and pseudonymous Neuroskeptic, Danish researcher Morten Tromholt recruited 1,095 participants (by way of Facebook, naturally) and put them into two groups. One pledged to not sign onto the social network for a full week (87 percent made it) and a control group used the platform the same way as they always did.
As anyone who has seriously used the phrase “social media detox” would be eager to tell you, the intervention group reported higher happiness than the control group — though it was just a difference of 0.37 between the two groups on a scale from 1 to 10.
True to their name, Neuroskeptic isn’t convinced by the findings: There’s probably a strong placebo effect, since the only people who would sign up for a “quit Facebook!” study were probably already contemplating the idea. Also, a week is short — it would be better to see the effects of self-imposed social-media exile over the course of months or years or decades.
Still, given that Facebook’s algorithm favors the content that baits your emotions, it’s easy to see how withdrawing might lower your drama level. And with the way everybody is on several dozen group texts these days, you’re already cracking jokes and sharing memes with the people you really care about anyway.