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Study: Facebook Can Get Kind of Depressing

Take off your tie and get comfortable.

Here’s an alternately insightful and discouraging report on how social media has changed the way we relate to each other. Seems like the small thrills of interacting with people and brands on Facebook just can’t measure up to the experience of seeing them in real life.

By requiring participants to answer questions about their mindsets via text message throughout the day, researchers got a better impression of how social activity affected their moods—and it wasn’t all pretty. The more time users spent connected to the network between texts, the more likely they were to report an emotional drop by study’s end.

Researchers were quick to note that correlation doesn’t prove causation; there could have been some other reason that the people who spent more time connected also reported greater declines in affect over the course of the study. There’s also the possibility that people who already weren’t feeling so hot got more upset when recalling how much time they spent online.

Here’s our promo spin: this study calls for more upbeat Facebook messages and more social campaigns encouraging people to close their laptops and go outside. Seriously. Use the line “Step outdoors, breathe in some fresh air, take a picture, then come back and @ us to let us know how it felt”. Coca-Cola can help, but only if you live in Lithuania.

Thankfully, another study tells us that bad luck and general negativity can be remedied with “ritual[s] that involve exerting force away from” yourself, like the timeless practices of knocking on wood and throwing salt over your shoulder. Just avoid walking under ladders and crossing black cats while checking Facebook on your smartphone and you should be fine.

No word on whether shouting “Jinx!” works over IM. We need answers.

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