Wellness in the Age of Facebook

A 2019 study by NYU and Stanford has recently resurfaced as companies begin to consider how to impact employee wellness beyond incentivizing and otherwise promoting healthy diet and exercise.

The results of the study suggest some benefit to Facebook use, but also highlights its addictive properties. More to the point, even after a four week “detox,” the participants spent substantial time on Facebook every day and needed to be paid large amounts of money to give up Facebook. The findings overall made clear the diverse ways in which Facebook can improve people’s lives, whether as a source of entertainment, a means to organize a charity or an activist group, or a vital social lifeline for those who are otherwise isolated.

But the results also make clear that the downsides are real. The authors found that the four week detox improved subjective well-being and substantially reduces post-experiment demand, suggesting that forces such as addiction and projection bias may cause people to use Facebook more than they otherwise would. They found that while deactivation makes people less informed, it also makes them less polarized by at least some measures, consistent with the concern that social media have played some role in the recent rise of polarization in the US.

Ready to change your relationship to social media? Try these tips from Michael LaNasa:

Limit Time

Apps like Moment or AppDetox will allow you to track and set alarms for time spent on social apps. Mindfulness and accountability are key to this approach.

When made aware of the time we spend chasing dopamine hits, it’s possible to snap out of the addiction. Coupled with keeping ourselves accountable and we can regain control.


Admit it, you likely follow people you don’t know because of the glamorous lifestyle they showcase. (I still have a few holdouts like this.) Remember, most of the social media is purposeful curation. No shame in it — but know that it’s intended to make you envious. The effect of envy or resentment can be detrimental.

Find some of the people or pages that draw your attention but give you little in return. Turn off notifications. Or unfollow them.


This comes down to your own choice after all. Choose to be envious. Choose to let comparison ruin your general happiness and self-worth. But what if these aren’t the only paths?

Psychologist Leon Festinger hypothesized that we make comparisons as a way of evaluating ourselves. Some benefits include positive self-image and self-motivation. The downsides of social comparison are familiar: deep dissatisfaction, guilt, or remorse.

What if you choose to reel in that comparison to others? Recognize that the need for comparison should aim at your previous self, not others. Stop comparing and start competing with the person you once were; aim to be the best version of yourself. Not someone else.

Many people find value in journaling. One huge benefit of that exercise is the ability to reflect upon previous wins. Gratitude compounds and you’re reminded that you’re doing pretty well, in fact. Instead of observing others’ lives, observe your own.