Facebook is for losers

A while since I posted this but the evidence all suggests that using social media can make you feel inadequate by comparing yourself with artificially inflated/enhanced profiles & pictures or number of people who like you.

Mike the Psych's Blog

figure_bed_computer_1600_wht_14033Most people who use Facebook do so to add positive updates but generally people who use Facebook tend to be more frustrated, angry and lonely.

This might be because positive updates from their “friends” make them feel inadequate.

Now researchers at Ohio University have discovered that people in a bad mood turn to social network sites and look up people less attractive or less successful than themselves rather than those more attractive and more successful.

Given a choice of profiles to look at on a new social networking link called SocialLink participants who had been put in a negative state of mind – by being given poor feedback on a test – spent more time looking at the profiles of people who were less attractive and less successful.

The message is if you’re feeling bad look for someone who’s feeling even worse and regain your emotional superiority.

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Loneliness bad for your health

P1000496Loneliness can increase the risk of heart disease by a third and should be treated as seriously as smoking and obesity.

That’s according to researchers at the University of York. And the risk might be even higher if  loneliness leads to inactivity and a poor diet.

A million older people in Britain say they are chronically lonely. A figure that is expected to rise by 600,000 in the next twenty years.

Other studies have shown that lonely people are 50% more likely to die early, a similar risk to drinking and smoking.

Dr Victoria Valtorta, who led the research, said “What it doesn’t tell you is whether people are at greater risk of developing disease or if people who are ill are less likely to recover if they’re lonely”

She analysed 23 studies involving 180,000 people and concluded that lonely people were also more likely to get heart disease or have a stroke.

People with weaker social relationships had 29% greater risk of developing coronary heart disease than the people with stronger social relationships…. similarly people who were socially isolated had a 32% greater risk of developing a stroke

Loneliness could cause disease through direct effects on the immune system or blood pressure, through the effects of depression, or because it makes people turn to cigarettes, alcohol and junk food.

Some doctors are experimenting with prescribing social clubs and gardening classes as part of a “social prescribing” approach but there is no evidence yet that these actually work.

The Campaign to End Loneliness said “Loneliness is becoming a silent epidemic in our society. It’s the responsibility of our community as a whole to tackle it”

I first posted on this 5 years ago as research was published about people dying of broken hearts. There is also evidence that it effects the health of  young people as well.

I’m so lonely, I could die

stick_figure_liking_it_500_wht_9170It’s not only the elderly who suffer from loneliness.

Scientists at the University of North Carolina now believe that a teenagers are just as much at risk.

Isolation can cause harmful changes to the body in adolescents just as in the elderly. Those with fewer friends are significantly more likely to have high levels of inflammation and higher blood pressure when they reach adulthood.

The scientists examined four age groups to find out why lonely people die earlier and are more susceptible to many diseases.

A large group of 12 – 18 year olds were asked about their friends and 8 years later had their blood pressure, bmi, and a test to measure inflammation. Social isolation made the teenagers 27% more likely to have high inflammation, a sign of biological stress, in their early adulthood.

A professor of sociology at the university, Kathleen Harris, said scientists had been concerned with the impact of loneliness on the elderly but had overlooked the impact on younger people. “Young people are not as healthy as they appear …. because of the obesity epidemic“.

The weight of the adolescents was also a confounding factor in the study as those who were obese as teenagers were twice as likely to have high inflammation as adults. But were the overweight teenagers less popular because of their weight?

Nevertheless the scientists concluded that an adolescence spent in solitude was likely to lead to health problems later in life. After age 18 the size of the social network don’t matter until people reached old age.

If you want to be happier – ditch Facebook!

stick_figure_liking_it_500_wht_9170Research from The Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen in Denmark (one of the happiest countries in the world) has found that giving up your Facebook account boosts happiness and reduces anger and loneliness.

Life satisfaction rose significantly in the space of a week when participants were unable to read the updates of their friends. The institute was surprised by the changes in such a short time and wants to raise awareness on the influence of social media on feelings of fulfilment.

Facebook and other social media sites are “a constant flow of edited lives which distort our view of reality” it said in its report The Facebook Experiment.

They recruited over a thousand people in Denmark and asked half of them to avoid Facebook for a week. Participants were asked to rate their life satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 10 before and after the experiment.

Those who continued to use Facebook (the control group) scored an average of 7.67 before and 7.75 afterwards.

Those who gave up Facebook scored 7.56 before and 8.12 afterwards. They also reported an increase in “real world social activity” and were less angry and less lonely than those who had continued to use Facebook. 88% of them declared themselves happy compared to 81% pf Facebook regulars and 84% said they were enjoying life compared to 75% of Facebook regulars.

The head of the Institute, Meik Wiking, said “We have known for some time that social comparisons matter when it comes to life satisfaction. So we thought, let’s see whether we can detect a Facebook effect because of this constant bombardment of great news happening to other people. Every time you look someone is getting married or has a great job in New York or having a holiday in Tahiti. How does this affect our perception of reality and how we value our own lives?”

The research found that the Facebook effect had roughly half the impact on life satisfaction as attributed to the disparity in income between the richest and poorest 10% of the population.

Wiking urged Facebook users to share more of their failures and disappointments. “We hope the experiment helped to highlight the negative impact of being bombarded with a distorted reality”

Facebook has been used previously for social research. In 2013 a paper was produced about emotional contagion (see summary below). In essence a sample of almost 700,000 Facebook users were fed either or negative news.

We show, via a massive (N = 689,003) experiment on Facebook, that emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness. We provide experimental evidence that emotional contagion occurs without direct interaction between people (exposure to a friend expressing an emotion is sufficient), and in the complete absence of nonverbal cues.

There was an issue about lack of informed consent as Facebook users weren’t told about it (but Zuckerberg doesn’t care about your privacy).

And this idea of “friends” on Facebook is stretching the meaning of the word in an increasingly narcissistic society where what others think of you is, sadly, more important than what you think of yourself (See So many Friends….)

Your face gives away your lifestyle and hides your real age

P1020307If you’re married, have fewer than four children, and come from a higher social class – you probably look younger than you actually are.

If you have lost a significant amount of weight, fallen down the social ladder, or are living as a lonely singleton – then you probably look older.

The combination of lifestyle, medical history and diet has a measurable impact on how your looks age.

Generally speaking a youthful face is an accurate indicator of good health (as is how energetically you walk).

Marriage is more beneficial for a woman knocking almost two years off her age (and if she moves up the social ladder she can look four years younger – and the same applies to men).

For men marriage generally only knocks off one year but having one to three children makes a man look a year younger while it makes no difference to a woman.

These benefits disappear in families with four children.

Looking chubbier as you get older helps men look younger as it smooths out the wrinkles. Adding 2 points to your body mass index (bmi) will take of a year whereas a woman would have to add 7 points to her bmi to get the same effect.

An affluent married man with no more than three children will took ten years younger than someone who is homeless, single and has lost weight (2 points off his bmi).

All the factors combined can lead to people in their 40s looking up to seven years younger than their contemporaries.

Public Health scientists at the Danish twin registry led the study to be published in the journal Age and Ageing.

They asked nurses to guess the ages of almost 2,000 identical and non-identical twins in their seventies. They then looked at environmental factors including marriage, parenthood and social class. Previous studies have shown that non-genetic factors account for 40% of the variation in perceived age.

The effects of heavy smoking are relatively  modest. You would have to smoke 20 a day for 20 years to gain extra wrinkles and tobacco smoke only causes half that damage to women’s skin.

However heavy drinking can add a year to both sexes as can diabetes, chronic asthma or the regular use of painkillers.

Excessive exposure to sunlight had no effect on the perception of men’s ages but added over a year to women’s faces by the time they reached seventy.

Depression makes women look a lot older than men. Almost 4 extra years compared with 2.4 for men.

One of the researchers, Dr Kaare Christensen, said “It is a lot more dangerous looking one year older than one year younger”. If you are not depressed, not lonely, not a smoker, and not too skinny, you are basically doing well”.

Dr Chris Philipson, professor of social gerontology at Keele University says “diet and exercise are crucial factors. You can do an awful lot over the age of 40 to 50 to change the way you experience growing old“.

Brits are among the loneliest people in EU

Only Germans are less friendly with their neighbours.

sitting_on_curb_holding_sign_12927It seems we’re unlikely to know our neighbours and will probably have to fend for ourselves in a crisis.

Only 58% of Brits feel connected to people in their neighbourhood.

Cyprus and Romania topped the table in a survey of the 28 EU countries.

The UK came 3rd from bottom when asked if they had a close friend to turn to in a personal crisis – only 1 in 8 people could say yes. Only the French and the Danes have fewer reliable friends. Eastern Europeans, Spaniards and Greeks have more friends they can rely on with Slovakia and Lithuania topping the table in that respect.

Bottom 5 overall

  • Germany 58%
  • UK 58.4%
  • Finland 61.7%
  • Austria 61.9%
  • Italy 64,4%

Top 5 overall

  • Cyprus 80.8%
  • Romania 79.9%
  • Croatia 78.8%
  • Latvia 78.5%
  • Spain 78.2%

Britain’s position is curious given that we participate far more than other EU countries in sport, cultural activities, and volunteering. And the survey, published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), found that 80% of Brits are satisfied with their social life and relationships with their families.

However there are few places where generations mix in Britain, unlike many European countries, and we live segmented lives according to Professor Frank Furedi at the University of Kent.