It’s well known that Facebook is bad for your mental health, and let’s be honest it’s likely bad for humanity at large. The engineers at Facebook purposefully create algorithms to get you hooked on the site and exploit your emotions so you spend more time on the site. Why? So they can sell your data to advertisers. This all combines to make an experience that feels good at the time, but is ultimately bad for you (like junk food). People who left Facebook report lower levels of depression and improved we’ll-being.
If deleting Facebook is too much for you, just reduce your use of the site. Trust me, once you stop regularly checking it you won’t miss it.
People who deactivated Facebook as part of the experiment were happier afterward, reporting higher levels of life satisfaction and lower levels of depression and anxiety. The change was modest but significant — equal to about 25 to 40 percent of the beneficial effect typically reported for psychotherapy.
Why are people willing to pay so much money for something that reduces their happiness? One possibility is that social media acts like an addictive drug — in fact, the people Allcott et al. paid to deactivate Facebook ended up using it less after the experiment was over. But another possibility is that people use services like Facebook because they’re compelled by motivations other than the pursuit of happiness.