This is the year we learned social networking is ruining our lives. Or at least that's what researchers seem to have been out to prove. From our levels of self-control to the time we spend sleeping and having sex, the year 2012 has been chock-full of studies that have shown social networking to be negatively impacting virtually all aspects of our lives. It's a wonder people are even logging on anymore.
Social networking decreases our self-control
Just this month, a study showed that Facebook use leads to a decrease in self-control. Researchers at Columbia University and the University of Pittsburgh found that in the wake of the self-confidence induced by social networking with close friends, users display less self-control when it comes to eating and spending money. "Greater Facebook use was associated with a higher body-mass index, increased binge eating, a lower credit score, and higher levels of credit card debt for consumers with many close friends in their social network," the researchers report.
Social networking makes us more narcissistic
So, perhaps I need to branch out my social network more. After all, if I'm only focusing on close friends, I'll become overweight and broke, right? Perhaps, but it turns out that just by expanding my social network, I'm more likely to show tendencies toward aggressive narcissism. In March, a study found, "People who score highly on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory questionnaire had more friends on Facebook, tagged themselves more often, and updated their newsfeeds more regularly." So, in other words, people with a larger social network are also more… social.
Social networking makes us more anxious
And they're also under more stress. A study from this past November taught us that people experience higher levels of anxiety when they put forth a Facebook persona that does not appeal to all circles in their social networks. This is especially true of people with larger numbers of friends who presumably have more circles to please. Since our social networks now include the likes of our elderly neighbors, kindergarten teachers, and parents-in-law, I can see how constantly trying to make a good impression on everyone could be stressful.
Social networking is cutting into bedtime
Fortunately, there are two great antidotes for stress: sleep and sex. But wait. Thanks to social networks, we're getting less sleep and having less sex, or at least that's what yet another study showed this year. Telecommunication experts at BroadBandChoices, a price comparison website, showed that people are going to bed an average of one-and-a-half hours later than they did 10 years ago, and nearly half of them spend that time online. Thirteen percent specifically spend that time on social networking sites, and 15 percent of those studied reported "the increase in Internet use has led to a decrease in nighttime intimacy."
Now that we know social networking is ruining our lives by making us more impulsive, self-indulgent, anxious, tired, and sex-deprived, how many of the billion users around the world do you suppose will resolve to give it up in 2013? I, for one, am going to take my chances. After all, they're sure to discover something new is ruining my life next year.