Science Confirms That Quitting Facebook Makes People Happier

Social networking in some form or another has existed for as long as life on this planet, but we don’t yet fully understand how the most modern incarnation affects our lives and our emotions in the long term. Facebook, Twitter and other similar sites give us a window into the activities of our friends en masse and instantly like never before, and a new study from the Happiness Research Institute suggests that may not necessarily be very good for us.

Just over a thousand Danish volunteers took part in the research: half carried on using Facebook as normal whereas half spent their time away from the world’s biggest social network. After a week, 88 percent of those who’d given up Facebook said they felt “happy”, compared with 81 percent of those who had still been checking into their News Feed stream on a regular basis.

And it’s not hard to guess the reason why: envy at the lives other people are enjoying, even if Facebook represents an edited highlights reel of what’s actually happening. “Instead of focusing on what we actually need, we have an unfortunate tendency to focus on what other people have,” wrote the authors of the study.

Those who had abstained from Facebook also reported feeling more enthusiastic, less lonely, less worried and more decisive. They spent more time seeing family and friends face-to-face and said they found it easier to concentrate too – those are a serious set of benefits to taking some time away from the social network’s apps and websites.

“Facebook is a constant bombardment of everyone else’s great news, but many of us look out of the window and see grey skies and rain, especially in Denmark,” Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute, told The Guardian. “This makes the Facebook world, where everyone’s showing their best side, seem even more distortedly bright by contrast, so we wanted to see what happened when users took a break.”

“When I woke up, even before getting out of bed, I’d open Facebook on my phone just to check if something exciting or important had happened during the night,” said 35 year-old Sophie Anne Dornoy, one of the volunteers. “I worried I’d end up on Facebook just out of habit. After a few days, I noticed my to do list was getting done faster than normal as I spent my time more productively. I also felt a sort of calmness from not being confronted by Facebook all the time.”

Our brains are still adjusting to the effects of an always-on, smartphone-driven lifestyle – of which social media is just a part – and psychologists are only just beginning to understand the effects, especially in the long term (believe it or not, Facebook is a mere 11 years old).

Wiking says he would like to study the effects of a year-long Facebook boycott next… provided he can find enough willing volunteers.

More and More People Are Coming Out on Facebook

Timed to coincide with Spirit Day, Facebook’s Research and Data Science division has published a report outlining how increasing numbers of US users that identify as lesbian, gay, bi or transexual have come out on the social network this year. “Not only has the total number of Americans who have come out on Facebook risen dramatically, but so has the number coming out each day.” Given the sheer heft of 1 Hacker Way’s user population, the findings offer a huge data sample to delve into. The Facebook team noted a particular spike in the number of users that came out follow the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision in late June. The number of people coming out per day on Facebook is now on track to be three times what it was in 2014. (The researchers defined coming out as: “updating one’s profile to express a same-gender attraction or specifying a custom gender.”) While many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender users are coming out online, the company faces a continued battle to repair its image with many in the LGBT community following its “real name” policy.

The Facebook analysis also looked at support for LGBT groups, whose memberships saw a spike in growth following the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage. Numbers have increased 25% in the last year. Currently, more than six million Americans have come out on Facebook. The past year alone added 800,000 to this total.

Here’s How To Stop Facebook From Bringing Up Bullshit From Your Past

Facebook’s “On This Day” and “Year In Review” reminders are a great way to look back at the past and remember happy memories. But the operative word there is “happy.” Sometimes, Facebook misses the mark — in a big way. Now the company is offering a way to keep sad and unpleasant memories from resurfacing in these nostalgia-inducing reminders. Here’s how.

Go to the Facebook “On This Day” page here. (You can actually go there anytime, and it shows you posts you’ve made, photos you’ve uploaded, and friends you’ve made on that day. It can be pretty funny.) Then, click on Preferences in the upper right-hand corner. In the menu that pops up, you now have the option to filter out people and dates you don’t want to be reminded of.

It’s a basic and relatively crude solution, but it’s better than nothing. Right now, Facebook just isn’t smart enough to know that the post from two years ago with 127 likes and 63 comments with a picture of your dog wasn’t a happy memory, it was the day your dog got hit by a car and you’d rather not remember that day. But now, you can at least block out posts from surfacing that include your ex.

There is something profoundly unnerving, however, about telling Facebook not to resurface memories about a friend or relative who has died. It feels disrespectful, but at the same time, the point is that you — not Facebook — are in control of those memories, and when and how they crop up in your life.

Finally! Facebook to Introduce a “Dislike” Button… Now We Wait For a ‘Your Selfies Suck’ Button

If you’ve ever wished there was an alternative to “liking” something on Facebook, soon you’ll be able to do the exact opposite: today, Mark Zuckerberg announced during a town hall meeting that the social media giant is working on a “Dislike” button. “I think people have asked about the dislike button for many years. Today is a special day because today is the day I can say we’re working on it and shipping it,” said the Facebook founder. Zuckerberg went on to explain, however, that the platform doesn’t want to implement a Reddit-like system of up-and down-voting and, instead, wants to use the button to express something else entirely. “What [users] really want is the ability to express empathy,” he went on to say. “Not every moment is a good moment.”

As Gizmodo puts it: “Soon, you’ll finally be able to call bad things bad on Facebook.”

No One Gives A Shit That You Didn’t Go To The Gym Today

CrossFit cult members are often knocked for their propensity to incorporate Facebook status updates and Tweets into their cool downs. I’ve never taken a CrossFit class but I can only assume posting a complete overview of their just-completed work out is essential to their recovery time. It’s as if all the burpees and pull-ups don’t count unless Aunt Sue from Seattle is notified in her news feed.

And it’s not just the CrossFit crew. Runners posting miles and splits of completed runs and hikers can’t go an day without cell phone shot images along the trail. “Smile and a wave to the groundhogs on my morning hike!” There are currently over 17 million Instagram photos labeled #exercise. Probably more posted in the middle of writing this column.

Every exercise and it’s pre and post workout social brag are equal in their narcissism. If there’s one possible positive to take from every weekend 10K warrior, biker and out of college but still rower on the lake at 5am like he’s trying to keep a scholarship it’s that perhaps these posts work as motivation for another workout AND prompt social media lurkers to get off their ass and complete an athletic endeavor.

There’s one status update, however, that’s not only pointless but absolutely unnecessary and seem to be popping up in my FB feed and Instagram browsing more frequently and it’s all the reasons a person missed a workout, decided not to go to the gym or just flat gave up in the middle of exercise.

Alright, enough of this shit. You want to brag about air squats and pre-dawn HIIT routines you’re more than welcome but the last thing anyone needs to know is why your lazy ass didn’t feel like working out.

Unless it’s “didn’t get to exercise today because I’m ever closer to curing almost every form or cancer” or “didn’t make it to Zumba because I’ve got cancer and I’m still waiting on a cure”, I and the rest of the world are completely uninterested in your cries for approval or to play mom and dad to your grade-school level commitment to anything in life. “It’s alright you didn’t make it to Crossfit today, Steph. Not remembering to toss your ‘too cute’ yoga pants in the wash last night is a more than legit reason. You sit home and Netflix the fuck out of Kimmy Schmidt and give a try again tomorrow.”

And here are my personal favorites — “I didn’t do this good thing today so I’m going to compound it with doing something awful on top of it.”

Brilliant strategy. You know what I didn’t do today? Rub one out. But you don’t see me running to Facebook to beg people to get me back on track or shame me into doing it when I get home. I don’t need that type of feedback from strangers.

FIX EVERY MISTAKE YOU’VE EVER MADE ON FACEBOOK IN UNDER ONE MINUTE

We all have something we wish we could take back—which is one of the major drawbacks of social media, since every single mistake you make is recorded for posterity.

Thankfully, the benevolent Facebook gods provide a lifeline for those of us who aren’t so proud of what we’ve done in the past (at times). Everybody knows the Activity log is there, but hardly anyone knows how to use it your advantage. All you have to do is tap into deepest, darkest recesses of your Log; after it erases all evidence of your reaction to the Great Breakup of 2010, it’ll become your best buddy.

Accessing your Activity Log is simple: on a desktop browser, use your cursor to select to the top right drop down menu as seen above. On the Facebook mobile app, direct your attentions to the bottom of the screen and the “More” menu, furthest to the right. Scroll down to Settings, and your Activity Log is the second selection.

Just look at it: every single thing you’ve ever done on the ‘Book, right at your fingertips. You can search through different types of activity on the left hand side of the page on your browser, or use the “Filter” option on the app.

As shown above, you can choose to change the audience of your posts with the globe icon…

… or you can take them off your Timeline entirely. But let’s be real: what you really want to do is hit that bottom button and delete that embarrassing late night post from ever re-emerging to haunt you.

With the Activity Log, the only way anyone will be able to hold any of your old Facebook mistakes over you is if some devious frenemy taken some screenshots. In that case, good luck–you’re gonna need it.

TAKE NOTICE PINELLAS STALKERS: STUDY FINDS THAT ONLINE HARASSERS ARE LITERALLY LOSERS

When you are in a relationship with someone, undoubtedly, their past is sure to arise at some point. So when multiple notifications from different social networks started showing up on the computer which my girlfriend and I share, it was nothing at at first… a new message from Ryan McCoy of Tampa on Facebook. Quickly it escalated two, three then seven unanswered messages, followed by Direct Messages on Twitter, emails and even LinkedIn messages. So, it was time to ask… “Who the fuck is this guy and what the Hell is wrong with him?” I know if I send someone a message and don’t get a response, I leave that person alone. Maybe they’re busy or just do not wish to respond. The latter being the case in this scenario.

It’s a practice that is certainly foreign to me… and something I find not only desperate, but quite frankly pathetic. I have heard of this harassment before from female friends and colleagues so I decided to take a look deeper into the research which attempts to look into the minds of these “losers”.

Here’s a research finding that should surprise no one: The men most likely to harass women online … are the men most likely to have their own problems.

That bit of validation comes courtesy Michael Kasumovic and Jeffrey Kuznekoff, researchers at the University of New South Wales and Miami University, respectively. For their latest study, published in the journal PLOS One last week, the duo watched how men treated women during 163 plays of the video game Halo 3.

As they watched the games play out and tracked the comments that players made to each other, the researchers observed that — no matter their skill level, or how the game went — men tended to be pretty cordial to each other. Male players who were good at the game also tended to pay compliments to other male and female players.

Some male players, however — the ones who were less-skilled at the game, and performing worse relative their peers — made frequent, nasty comments to the female gamers. In other words, sexist dudes are literally losers.

A chart from the Halo study that shows how nice male gamers were to other males (dotted line) and females (solid line) during gameplay. Men always treat each other about the same. But the better a player gets, the more likely he is to be nice to ladies. (Kasumovic et al)

In today’s online environment, alas, this is not an idle observation. According to a recent Pew report, 40 percent of Internet users have personally experienced harassment. While both genders are frequent victims of this abuse, women tend to get the worst of it: They are “particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment and stalking,” Pew said.

I asked Kasumovic, the lead author on the study, how applicable his findings were in other online or offline settings. In other words, how much of this derives from human nature, and how much of it relates to the unique demands of first-person shooters?

Kasumovic argues that video games actually make incredible proxies for studying real-life behavior — Halo 3, especially.

There are three things you should know about the game, for the purpose of understanding this study: (1) players are anonymous, and the possibility of “policing individual behavior is almost impossible”; (2) they only encounter each other a few times in passing — it’s very possible to hurl an expletive at another player, and never “see” him or her again; and (3) finally, and perhaps predictably, the sex-ratio of players is biased pretty heavily toward men. (A 2014 survey of gender ratios on Reddit found that r/halo was over 95 percent male.)

That should sound a whole lot like a lot of other, frequently sexist online spaces: Think Twitter. Or Reddit. Or 4chan.

In each of these environments, Kasumovic suggests, a recent influx of female participants has disrupted a pre-existing social hierarchy. That’s okay for the guys at the top — but for the guys at the bottom, who stand to lose more status, that’s very threatening. (It’s also in keeping with the evolutionary framework on anti-lady hostility, which suggests sexism is a kind of Neanderthal defense mechanism for low-status, non-dominant men trying to maintain a shaky grip on their particular cave’s supply of women.)

“As men often rely on aggression to maintain their dominant social status,” Kasumovic writes, “the increase in hostility towards a woman by lower-status males may be an attempt to disregard a female’s performance and suppress her disturbance on the hierarchy to retain their social rank.”

In other words, like your mother always said, bullies just feel bad about themselves.

This does not, alas, suggest any solutions for on- or offline sexism, or any hope that it will ever really end. (“There are so many more questions we’ve already begun to to ask and our results are looking really interesting,” Kasumovic said.)

Until then, ladies, Facebook and Pinterest are your friends! Those are, for better or worse, two of the online spaces where this type of sex-ratio imbalance isn’t much of a problem: Women on both sites solidly outnumber men.

Little Caesars App Allows You to “Bacon-Wrap” Your Twitter Timeline

Finally, the chance to escape the news nonsense, unsolicited observations and hashtags that take over your Twitter feed is here. When Little Caesars first introduced its bacon-wrapped deep-dish pizza, it seemed just a step away from full-blown bacon-wrapped ubiquity. Now, that step has been taken—by Little Caesars, naturally—as the company has unveiled its new Bacon Timeline app for Twitter.

Essentially, the app is just 42 images of sections of bacon that will appear in order on your timeline. The result is a replication of a 3.5 foot bacon strip stretched out for your scrolling pleasure. On the app’s webpage, there’s even a warning that reads, “If wrapping your timeline with forty-two image Tweets of a very long strip of bacon is not for you, then you should definitely not do this because that is exactly what happens when you use Bacon Timeline. If you think you can convince yourself, then you should convince yourself and quickly do Bacon Timeline before you change your mind.”

If you feel the need for 3.5 feet of bacon on your Twitter feed, you can get the app here.

Facebook Just Unveiled a New Feature That Could Save Countless Lives

A new Facebook feature is leveraging the company’s massive social network to help people in need.

On Wednesday, the company announced an innovative suicide prevention tool within the platform that will make it easier for fellow users to report posts that indicate a person may be in danger of self-harm.

Facebook worked with mental health organizations, including Forefront, Now Matters Now, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Save.org, to create the new feature. They also consulted those who have survived suicide attempts or had experiences with self-injury.

According to the University of Washington’s Deborah Bach, when users find a potentially concerning post, they will soon be able to click a drop-down menu that allows them to either directly contact the poster, “contact another Facebook friend for support or connect with a trained professional at a suicide helpline for guidance.” Facebook will also review flagged posts and help connect users thought to be in need with the aforementioned resources.

Social media is often accused of stifling human connection, so kudos to Facebook for using its platform for something so meaningful.

This could save lives. As the team behind the new feature notes, sometimes users of social media may post clear suicide warning signs. When transgender teen Leelah Alcorn died late last December, for example, her Tumblr was filled with suicidal ideations in the weeks leading up to her death.

“As the world’s biggest social network, with more than 1.39 billion users, Facebook is uniquely positioned to provide online resources and support to help suicidal people,” Bach writes on the University of Washington’s website. The new feature could allow people to take a more active role in ensuring members of their community are safe and well.

“Suicide prevention involves everyone and the more connections people have the more likely we are to save someone,” Dan Reidenberg, executive director at Save.org.

“Often, friends and family who are the observers in this situation don’t know what to do,” said Holly Hetherington, a Facebook content strategist with the project, according to the University of Washintgon. “They’re concerned, but they’re worried about saying the wrong thing or somehow making it worse. Socially, mental illness and thoughts about suicide are just not something we talk about.”

“By including the voices of those of those with lived experience, we are starting to close a feedback loop that has historically fallen on deaf ears,” added Ursula Whiteside, research scientist at Forefront and developer of Now Matters Now, in an email to Mic. “Overall this is a population-based intervention for those who have [been] or are suicidal — by saying that their experience matters and that we want to hear from them.”

Representatives said in a post on the Facebook Safety page that the updates would roll out to all users in the U.S. over the next couple of months, and that they’re working to improve tools for users outside of the U.S. as well.

This can’t happen soon enough: The new tool reminds us that it’s important to speak up when we see posts that indicate someone is in trouble. Reaching out and letting another person know you care and are willing to help could make all the difference.

If you or someone you know is at risk for suicide, you are not alone. Seek help by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Facebook Now Lets You Choose Who Controls Your Account When You Die

Well, this is a bit morbid, but we guess convenient. As of this week, you can now choose who controls your Facebook account upon your passing. The feature, aptly-dubbed “legacy contact,” can be accessed in the Facebook security section, as not only can you select a friend or family member to take over once you’re gone, but you can also designate what aspects of your profile they have access to. And if you simply want your Facebook account to go six feet under along with yourself, it gives you that option as well. So hey, along with your last will and testament, you better get on this — we guess.

Already last summer we wrote an opinion piece about what happens with your social media accounts when one passes away.