Could you give up using Facebook?
Nov. 16, 2015
by Mark Ollig

How can we improve the quality of our lives, and become a little happier?

One method is by giving up Facebook for a week.

This was the conclusion of an experiment our friends at Denmark’s Happiness Research Institute discovered.

How has being an active user on Facebook affected our lives?

Personally, I now find myself routinely scanning through Facebook first thing in the morning, during the day, and in the evening.

I’m checking the latest messages by friends, family, acquaintances, news sources, fan group pages, and pastime interests; such as NASA’s Facebook page.

I also find satisfaction in seeing how many Facebook “likes” my comments, posted photos, web links, and videos receive.

Sometimes I get a bit impatient if one of my posts doesn’t receive any “likes” over the span of a day.

I’ll usually delete the post, and then try to find something else that might be liked by the Facebook community.

Starting around 2006, I was using what was then, a popular online social media site called MySpace; however, in 2008, I noticed a lot of users were leaving it and switching to Facebook.

In February 2009, my oldest son was going to be visiting Italy for an extended period.

I asked him what the best way to stay in contact with him was.

He told me; “Join Facebook, and request to add yourself as one of my Facebook “friends.”

Most of my friends and family members now use Facebook.

Since then, the amount of my online social media time spent using Facebook has steadily increased.

A couple years ago, I joined a fan-based, Minnesota Lynx basketball Facebook page.

During the WNBA season, I, along with other Lynx fans, posted comments about the games, players, and coaches.

The Facebook app on my smartphone is set to notify me when anyone instant messages me, directs a comment my way, or “likes” one of my posts.

My smartphone produces a low audible “buzz” notification whenever there is activity on my social media accounts: Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, and AOL email.

I have my smartphone charger on the stand next to my bed; and yes, sometimes when I wake up in the middle of the night, I reach for my phone to check for any new Facebook, Twitter, or email messages.

I’m probably not the only one who does this.

One of these social media, middle of the night experiences occurred at 2:00 am.

I was wide awake; so, out of habit, I logged into Facebook.

Suddenly, a message popped up from a Facebook friend asking; “Is anyone else awake?”

I quickly texted that I, too, was awake.

In about five minutes, there were four more replies from other Facebook users saying the same thing.

With so many others awake at this hour, I posted we should start a Facebook insomnia page.

I have learned folks can and do become addicted to Facebook.

To be honest, I am finding myself spending more time not only on Facebook; but on my other social media sites, as well.

“The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teens” is a study released last week by Common Sense Media.

In this report, they concluded teenagers are spending an average of nine hours a day immersed in social media, including listening to online music.

Would your life be dramatically affected if you gave up your favorite social media site?

An answer to this question was the focus of a recent research trial experiment conducted by the Happiness Research Institute.

Their study involved 1,095 Facebook users living in Denmark.

They asked half of them to give up using Facebook for one week.

The other half of these Facebook users were told to continue using Facebook as they normally do.

The requirement here was both groups needed to assess their current satisfaction with their lives before – and after – the one week research trial period.

Let’s cut to the chase: the results found those who were off Facebook for one week reported “a significantly higher level of life satisfaction.”

The study showed taking a week-long absence break from Facebook increased happiness, offline social activity, and concentration levels.

The group which continued to use Facebook reported no major satisfaction changes in their lives.

Most people will continue to use online social media, according to Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute.

If I suddenly stopped using my online social media, such as Facebook; cold-turkey, I would probably begin experiencing social media withdrawal pains.

Today, I was going to announce this columnist’s a one-week sabbatical from Facebook, and write a future column on how it affected my life.

However, as I thought this through, I concluded, for the time being, I would not be abandoning my currently most prized (and visited) social media site.

Give up Facebook?

Sorry, not today.

The Denmark Happiness Research Institute is located at: http://tinyurl.com/bytes-dh.

Common Sense Media’s website is: http://tinyurl.com/bytes-cs.

I need to end this column now; my smartphone’s Facebook app is buzzing.

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