A large part of the population has taken the initiative to revamp their relationship with Facebook and other social media platforms. Whether they are concerned about privacy simply seeking a more peaceful life, Americans are becoming less interested in the dynamics of the social media scene.
Just over half of Facebook users ages 18 and older (54%) say they have adjusted their privacy settings in the past 12 months, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Around four-in-ten (42%) say they have taken a break from checking the platform for a period of several weeks or more, while around a quarter (26%) say they have deleted the Facebook app from their cellphone. All told, some 74% of Facebook users say they have taken at least one of these three actions in the past year.
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube have all separately faced scrutiny from conservative lawmakers and pundits over allegations that the social media platforms intentionally suppress conservative and other non-liberal voices. The Pew Research Center found that the vast majority of Republicans think that social platforms, in general, are censoring political speech they find objectionable or disagreeable. Despite these concerns, the poll found that nearly identical shares of Democrats and Republicans (including political independents who lean toward either party) use Facebook. Republicans are no more likely than Democrats to have taken a break from Facebook or deleted the app from their phone in the past year.
Younger users are much more likely to have deleted the Facebook app from their phone and adjusted their privacy settings as opposed to older social media users. And less time on social media leads to more mental stability and a greater feeling of self-worth.
A study conducted by the University of Copenhagen found that many people suffer from “Facebook envy,” with those who abstained from using the popular site reporting that they felt more satisfied with their lives. “When we derive a sense of worth based on how we are doing relative to others, we place our happiness in a variable that is completely beyond our control,” Dr. Tim Bono, author of When Likes Aren’t Enough explained in Healthista. Breaking away from social media helps people focus on themselves as opposed to the filtered and photoshopped images of “Instagram models.”
Stina Sanders, a former model who has 107,000 followers on Instagram, has explained to The Independent how social media sometimes makes her feel like she’s being left out. “I know from my experience I can get FOMO (fear of missing out) when I see my friend’s photos of a party I didn’t go to, and this, in turn, can make me feel quite lonely and anxious,” she told The Independent.
A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology that assessed 5,208 subjects found that overall, regular use of Facebook had a negative impact on an individual’s wellbeing.