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Facebook quitters report more life satisfaction, less depression and anxiety (boingboing.net)
919 points by ericdanielski 5 months ago | hide | past | web | 403 comments | favorite





What gave me the most satisfaction is quitting the news. Incidentally I don't have or use any social media either. Except imgur and sometimes among the funny memes I get news.

But I'm afraid for people I meet who always remind me of all the awful things they've seen in the news. I'm aware of none of this until someone tells me.

And yet my life is the same as everyone elses. Not knowing what is going on, living in a country with a high standard of living and personal safety, doesn't affect me at all.


I absolutely understand what you're saying. But part of me feels an obligation to be informed to hold those in power accountable. If everyone follows the advice of avoiding the news, what effect would that have in our Govenment?

The problem as I see it is that it is almost impossible to be informed enough to hold people accountable. In the U.S. at least the news is almost always of the form: “ Person from party A (which you are a member of) destroys person from Party B”. Or, “Party B seeks to destroy Issue C”.

There is virtually no nuance in the reporting. There’s no dissection. For example, the situation with Syria is quite complicated as Turkey, U.S., Russia, Kurds, and Assad all have conflicting goals and desires. Yet all of the reporting I’ve seen on this conflict has been absurdly reductionist and used to garner support/hatred toward the party in power by the adherents/adversaries of said party in power.

I understand the desire to have an informed populace but I think that is no longer possible. It is too easy to sway large swaths of the public. Witness the rise of anti-vaxers and other thoughtless beliefs. Even if I tried to be relatively informed it wouldn’t matter because the vast majority of the people are not psychologically prepared to withstand the pressure of subtle, sustained propaganda.

I have resigned myself to the fact that the republic is dead in the sense of what the ideal of a republic ought to be. I too avoid news and social media. I don’t count this website to be what I call social media since there is no identifying information about myself on here and none of my friends knows about my posts on this website.


I was reading Plato recently and this stood out:

> When they meet together, and the world sits down at an assembly, or in a court of law, or a theatre, or a camp, or in any other popular resort, and there is a great uproar, and they praise some things which are being said or done, and blame other things, equally exaggerating both, shouting and clapping their hands, and the echo of the rocks and the place in which they are assembled redoubles the sound of the praise or blame—at such a time will not a young man's heart, as they say, leap within him? Will any private training enable him to stand firm against the overwhelming flood of popular opinion? or will he be carried away by the stream? Will he not have the notions of good and evil which the public in general have—he will do as they do, and as they are, such will he be?

People have been complaining about what you're complaining about for thousands of years. What I find truly puzzling -- given the supposed madness of crowds -- is that things are going so well.


>What I find truly puzzling -- given the supposed madness of crowds -- is that things are going so well.

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it--always.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi's optimism here of course belies an ignorance of the impact of technological advancement upon the global climate, which was odd considering he was alive for history's literal technological fulcrum, but I guess he can be forgiven due to having other worries at the time.


> impact of technological advancement upon the global climate

It's worth remembering that our technology makes the world less habitable for us but that might not be the case for other organisms. I have little concern for the longterm health of life on earth beyond the blip of disruption that is humanity. However, I hope we can use the same technology to overcome or manage some of our own worst excesses. It is worth looking towards the positive stories in environmentalism sometimes. It is not all doom and gloom, and nature's ability to regenerate and re-conquer our wastelands is easy to forget.


> People have been complaining about what you're complaining about for thousands of years. What I find truly puzzling -- given the supposed madness of crowds -- is that things are going so well.

The people doing the manipulating are generally getting what they want, why would they try to pull the system apart?


> There is virtually no nuance in the reporting.

If you want to read ad-supported news, then you will be stuck with news that is intended to have the lowest possible production costs, and garner the most possible eyeballs. This business does not support nuance, because nuance is expensive and less audacious.

Nuanced reporting exists on essentially every topic that it is possible to care about, but it is often in smaller paid publications.


> Nuanced reporting exists on essentially every topic that it is possible to care about, but it is often in smaller paid publications.

Earlier this week I spoke to someone who wanted me to subscribe to a left-wing newspaper (klassekampen for the Norwegians here). I said my media budget was full - for now - but I'd like to add them - together with one from the other side at a later stage.

Then she says: that's not unusual, a good number of our readers also read resett (right wing web site that I usually don't read.)

That surprised me a bit, and in a good way.

Edit to add: I'd of course be equally happy to know if many right-leaning people read left-leaning news, and I've no reason to believe it is different.


People could read both to make more informed decisions or to take a middle position on issues. But it could also be because they want to know their enemy or to find fodder for their online rants. I agree with you though that it's always good to be informed.

I'm happy to read articles both from the political left and right in Sweden, but I refuse to read the anti-immigration websites by the far right. It just makes me feel dirty, and I don't want to be in their company. I already know that even if we start from the same sets of facts, our conclusions will be completely different, and there's no need for me to even see their proposed solutions.

Speaking of all sides, there's a Swedish web forum called Flashback that is a great example of this. It's very pro free speech, which means that you have posters who are openly nazis discussing politics with communists and others. You have to have a thick skin to read some of the stuff posted, but I'm really happy that there is a platform for these people to meet and discuss, because nothing gets better by only having individual echo chambers.

I think individual spaces are also important, where you agree with people and don't have to fight all the time, but we also need spaces for people with different backgrounds to discuss.


the issue with the "i dislike mainstream media" argument is that its usually made by people who have a simultaneous and unspoken desire to have the "correct" information and opinions gift wrapped and personally delivered to them.

I think mainstream media is very dislikeable, and this "correct" information exists and can be gift wrapped to an extent. The only problem is that it's not so easy: if you want true education, get books on the matter (e.g. middle east history and current affairs). Vastly more valuable than trying to grasp the torrent of sensationalist news snippets. Not everyone has the commitment to do so. I'm not sure in that case if it's better to read no news at all or only read news (and no detailed reporting); I'm inclined to think no news is better. If you're not willing to question, contextualize and integrate information that's offered, better not take it, waste of time (or worse when it is skewed).

contrarians are superficially similar to skeptics.

So read something like The Economist or the paper version of the NYT?

The NYT I definitely now class with all the rest. In my opinion The Economist stands alone as the only publication I can trust to be nuanced and informative.

I agree that The New York Times can be pretty terrible (a lot depends on the reporters and editors of a particular piece), but I have to say that I also find The Economist to be pretty shallow and often wrong. The best part about The Economist is its breadth (a lot of stories from all over the world), but a story about a water purification project in Uganda (for example) isn't going to be useful for most Americans (and I assume Ugandans would have better sources to read). It's mostly infotainment.

I'd say the Economist, Bloomberg, Bellingcat, and fivethirtyeight all have good signal to noise ratios.

Why do you think those sources are nuanced or provide decent coverage of topics? Are you sure you're right?

Here's one example among many that perhaps these are not good sources of information.

https://www.mediamatters.org/new-york-times/how-iraq-war-sti...


This is the answer. Journalists cannot work for free, and trying to run a newspaper entirely supported by ads creates perverse incentives.

ProPublica to me is the best. Of course they don't cover everything, but what they do cover, they do an excellent job.

The news these days has no attention span and pounds on the most catchy story all day. Right now it's novel coronavirus. I bet people who watch CNN are highly stressed out about it. I caught a few minutes during a tour of the CNN center and I was glad I won't be seeing that reporting all day. As soon as a more gruesome story comes along, the reporting will change, it'll forget about the virus, and life will go on.

There must be a better way to truly accomplish keeping government accountable. Think about your locus of control. Most reporting is about things that do not directly affect you, you cannot change them, and they have some emotional value that keeps them in the news. Where you can effect change is in your locality, or with your local representatives, voting in larger elections, writing letters to staff, joining advocacy groups, etc. I think the constant drumbeat of bad news makes people less likely to do any of these things.


This is easy to say and hard to accomplish in reality. Unless you give specific to dos and don'ts, you will have to change a lot of your habits.

I'm implying consuming more deliberative media, such as long-form journalism, research, "current" history, and the reports of advocacy groups you agree with to inform yourself and help decide what action you will take.

It's almost as if large scale change requires a great effort.

You can delegate your concern to a political party, which is essentially all you are able to do as a citizen in a country like the US particularly if you live in a state that does not have a lot of referenda.

If you want to learn more you can spend more time on researching the issues. Otherwise you could vote on a single issue, or just pick the party that is supposed to represent people like you with a similar hierarchy of values.

The US also doesn't have mandatory voting, so declining to vote just signals that you have delegated concern over civic issues to other people who are willing to make that (sometimes significant) sacrifice of time, energy, and money.


The problem with the strategy you describe is that if too many people use it, politicians can just openly lie about what's happening in the world and what they're doing about it. A voter who has identified with a party and is no longer interested in learning the facts has no way to correct for this.

Do politicians who openly lie about what's happening in the world and what they're doing about it get corrected? Now THAT would be news.

Yes, it happens all the time. There are many news websites that track and correct lies made by public officials.

Perhaps, but there are usually people in positions of power that care and for better or worse probably have more influence than the general electorate.

It's not a strategy, it's a choice to be happy. I don't have control over other people, and I don't want it.

There's a simpler solution if you don't want to exert control over other people. Don't vote.

Here's the secret, most "news" makes your view of the world less accurate, not more. So like with many things, the key is quality over quantity.

Check out the Media Bias Chart: https://www.adfontesmedia.com/static-mbc/?v=402f03a963ba

To know what's going on you only need 10 minutes a day skimming stories from a few outlets at the top of the triangle. You can have a remarkably well rounded knowledge of global affairs just from following Reuters' freely available Top News RSS feed. 10min a day on that feed and you will have a better picture of the world than 90% of your peers.

Most people's media consumption is far greater than 10min a day. They stick to one slope of the triangle or another. The problem with all these sites as you go down the slope is that they get increasingly more sensationalist, and even when they remain technically accurate they try to paint an engagement-driving, adversarial, perpetual crisis view of the world.

When you slide down the slope of the triangle you end up feeling like the world is doomed, the enemy is on the rise, everything is broken, because that's how the publisher wants you to feel, because they know it keeps you coming back.

Cut your media diet down, spend 80% of your time on the facts, and 20% on occasional long read analysis from both sides. You'll get smarter and your anxiety will disappear.

As for social media... from a news/events standpoint at least, it's just garbage. A billion lost souls jockeying for imaginary status with imaginary people. Avoid.


> Check out the Media Bias Chart: https://www.adfontesmedia.com/static-mbc/?v=402f03a963ba

Where NPR, NYT, and CNN are deemed neutral and balanced, eh?

Such determinations say more about the determiner than the determined.


In point of fact they are all left of center on the chart, but less far left than say MSNBC, which I would say is pretty spot on.

Some other commenters have offered really good replies, but I’d like to reiterate the sentiment that most major (American) news outlets have heavily prioritized ad revenue and television ratings over their public duty to inform the people.

These days, I get most of my headlines from Reuters and AP. I also respect The Economist, Propublica, FiveThirtyEight, Washington Post, The Intercept, Miami Herald, Buzzfeed News, and New York Times. Of course, some more than others, but it seems that the quality of the journalism emerging from these outlets is relying more on the integrity of individual journalists with great track records as opposed to great teams (think Spotlight).

I’m sure just about every commenter here who follows the news knows of at least one article that tarnished the reputation of each of those outlets at some point in time. Maybe it was a low-effort payila piece, or a poorly written opinion column, or just straightup poor journalism that never got a retraction.


payila -> payola

May I suggest consuming news through text rather than video? In fact, the more boring the better.

I see a big issue is that the news is frequently emotive based. In some cases this is helpful, when terrible stuff is going on. Other cases it makes mundane things seem worse. Or it makes things that don't affect us and/or we have no control over emotionally important. The latter is particularly harmful, imo. A lot of these make you feel like you are more informed than you are, because you're highly emotionally invested. I think video really promotes the emotional investment.

But the boring stuff allows you to become emotionally invested in what __you__ care about. Then the lack of emotional forcing makes you feel less informed, so if you care you spend time finding out more. This prevents people from being "armchair researchers" and fighting.


Where do you get the boring stuff? Please, I'm drowning here.

To be honest, most of the major news sources have the boring stuff. The actual issue is that what goes viral and is passed around are opinion articles. I particularly like Reuters, they seem more middle of the road in terms of bias. But I think one of the keys is to read from both sides. You don't have to agree with the side that you don't lean towards, but it is extremely helpful to know the content that those people are ingesting. If you want nuance, you really have to try to see things from other peoples' perspectives. This is pretty hard. I think being "so connected" this is actually more challenging, because it is easier to find your niche inside of a niche inside of a niche and stay there, instead of having to deal with different niches.

Short form, Reuters and AP. PBS NewsHour is excellent if you prefer an audiovisual presentation.

Personally, I find all of that to be too much of a firehouse, and prefer longer form reads.

For those, I’d recommend subscribing to physical copies of magazines (or digital copies of the physical copies).

Something about the pieces of paper or emails in my inbox beckons me to read. Some magazines (New Yorker, Economist, even WIRED) have first rate long form journalism.

They’ll usually have at least one substantial article that’s deeply or tangentially related to current news blurbs, so you stay “in the loop”.

Magazines are nice because they seem to respect the reader’s autonomy and intellectual curiosity, by avoiding tantrums, outrage, and diatribes, and focusing instead on nuance and themes. It’s a more literary way of digesting current events than twitter or what have you, and it can even be relaxing!


Audio also works well. I've been listening to the NPR News Now podcast, as well as NPR's Planet Money.

When I'm feeling a little more capacity for the news cycle, I might also listen to NPR's Up First, NYT's The Daily, and NPR's The Indicator.


Reuters and AP are the news wire services from which most new networks get their news. They are both super boring and terse, and there are RSS feeds for both.

Local papers?

I actually hold a more optimistic view toward the effect of people not staying up to date with the news, I feel like a good part of reason why there are so much anger in the world right now, and political spectrum becoming more extreme is partially due to how news get reported, you rarely rarely see an objective view of matters on news. They're often used as PR outlets for political parties.

>I absolutely understand what you're saying. But part of me feels an obligation to be informed to hold those in power accountable.

So, how does that work out for you?


If you encourage your neighbors to vote, local politicians will pay more attention to your area. I doubt it goes much broader than that.

You could say the same about not voting.

Well, if you can say the same thing about voting and not voting, then it makes not much of a difference either way...

In the context of the article and the point OP made it’s working out great not being informed or voting. At least for me. I don’t stress or get worked up by stuff. I feel like I’m a lot happier these days. Deliberate ignorance is not for everyone but it does work well for me.

Here's how I solve this problem: I subscribe to the Sunday print edition [0] of the Boston Globe [1]. It comes on Sunday and I read it over coffee.

There's no practical reason to be informed beyond what's in your city's Sunday print edition. Anything more than that is entertainment.

[0] It occurs to me that city dailies are so out of fashion that some of you might not understand why I recommend the Sunday edition. The Sunday edition is the largest edition of the week and repeats stories that appeared on other days. It also includes some features and sections that are not included on any other day. If you only get one day, you want Sunday.

[1] This could be any big-city paper (e.g. The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Boston Globe). It doesn't matter.


A valid point. But I think that occasional (perhaps regularly scheduled) and mindful checks of select, thoughtful news sources that aren't overly focused on driving engagement with clickbait topics, article titles, etc allows you to stay sufficiently informed without succumbing to the stress-storm that is most news media. Think big picture, often long-form reporting vs. a heavy reliance on "breaking news", opinion pieces, and lifestyle-focused content.

(Some sources I like: PBS Newshour, ProPublica, the Economist, the Financial Times, the New York Review of Books.)


You are largely being informed by PR people and lobbyists. Also facts are generally missing or just wrong when published in real time. Books gives a much more accurate and accountable view of events.

Not sure how books really solve that. If I was interested in following the recent impeachment, what books am I going to read? I'm sure there will be plenty available within the year, but that's a little late for anyone who wants to know what's going on right now.

That's precisely it. There will be plenty of books available before November, and their authors will have had a few months to digest what happened and its aftermath.

And November is the only time it really matters. Until then, you can shake your tiny fist, but in November you get to make a choice that counts, literally.

You could follow it in real-time for the entertainment value, if you want. But if you actually want to make an informed choice when it matters, you'll have no trouble finding a book that summarizes it, and it will take far, far less time than trying to keep up with it (and remember it all come November).


Ignoring the news and waiting for a book leaves you vulnerable to revisionism. As people tell stories about events that happened, the events retroactively evolve.

This is something that is particularly noticeable as you get older so that you remember things 10 or 20 years ago. Of course, your own memories can be inaccurate, but people who weren't around at the time are generally completely unmoored because nobody examines primary sources.


> But if you actually want to make an informed choice when it matters, you'll have no trouble finding a book that summarizes it, and it will take far, far less time than trying to keep up with it (and remember it all come November).

I also doubt there are a lot of people who were following the impeachment because they wanted to decide whether or not to vote for Trump. If you already know how you'll vote, following the day to day political battles is, as you said, merely entertainment.


Books definitely won't help you satisfy impulsive urges for 24/7 live updates on such minutiae; but then again, what practical use would you have for trying to stay perpetually up to date on the current status of the impeachment process?

The impeachment is already forgotten.

>If everyone follows the advice of avoiding the news,

That would be a similar situation to everyone following the advice of not becoming a musician (no music) or not becoming an astronaut (the international space station would have to shut down). Our society is based on specialization and every group of friends really only needs one person who knows what the news is talking about.


It seems like most of the people I know who spend hours a week watching political news end up having no clue who to vote for when it comes to local elections where they have the most impact. I've worked the polls multiple times and have seen this over and over.

A lot of the news is mental junk food, and the idea that they are doing it for a better society is usually just an excuse for a bad habit. Even on the topics the news covers, people are usually left with a cartoonish narrative that's often worse than being completely ignorant on the issues.


I've been avoiding news as well since the last Presidential election. I can appreciate that this is terrible advice in general, but for the sake of my blood pressure, health in general, and mental well-being it's the best choice for me.

I noticed that certain politicians do their best to reach the media and news, and others just do their job.

Why would the news be the best source to judge your politicians?


I'm struggling to think of anything that could serve as a better source, or even a reasonable runner-up. Am I taking a broader interpretation of "news"? I would agree that cable news is probably a net negative; web aggregators like Google are hazardous, and following individually-selected news sites is a lot of work, but what else is there?

You can look at their voting record, or who they take money from. There a number of "non-news" websites that have this information.

Yes the important stuff is public record, but it's also hard to analyze the primary sources. Bills tend to have misleading names, mixed content, and non-obvious agendas. Context is important; it's not uncommon for someone to oppose a weak bill because politically the alternative is a stronger one, not inaction. The FEC database is hideously formatted anomaly-filled MS Access stuff. I generally let someone else do the analysis, but then that's "news" (or at least subject to the same pitfalls?).

I was kind of shocked recently because my phone nudged me towards the "front page" of Wikipedia with top news stories, and it was completely different from other sources of online news. In particular I hadn't heard anything about Brexit finally happening. Someone who is older than me and mainly watches news on TV told me it had been reported there. But Google News and various internet sites I usually read seem to have omitted it. It seems like there is a distinct echo chamber, and maybe you don't have to give up news entirely to get out. It's crossed my mind I could start reading a local newspaper again, too.

I think in a country like the US, where news networks can push a political bias (not needing to give both sides of an issue equal coverage), without accountability, it requires consumers to do their own homework on issues. I guess the question is, why not optimize and cut the news out of the middle?

It might be a benefit. Being misinformed could be worse than being uninformed.

“Hold those in power accountable” could mean many different things, but if you’re referring primarily to voting, then reviewing high quality sources every few weeks or once a month will probably give you better information then following the daily news cycle.

I think if people in general took that approach, the effect on the government would be positive. Citizens consuming politics as entertainment and politicians approaching their job like YouTube celebrities are doing enormous damage.


> reviewing high quality sources every few weeks or once a month will probably give you better information then following the daily news cycle.

I have found this to be effective. I'll read something like Reuters a few times a month. Events that are major that I need to care about sooner are talked about and I can't escape, so I go read up on them.

The truth is that there's not enough happening every day that needs your attention for you to stay informed (at least informed enough. Because we can't all be experts on everything, which I think the daily cycle gives you the impression that you are).


I've adapted a kind of middle road with regards to this. I don't use mainstream social media but I do use Mastodon; a certain amount of general news reach me that way by people sharing it.

For regular news I don't read it during the week, but I will catch up on it during the weekend. It keeps me updated on ongoing situations (e.g. Corona virus, presidential elections) and let's me see what things stick around. If a story comes out Monday and it reappears Saturday it means it's worth considering since it survived the 24 hour cycle. Looking back I also pick headlines that seem interesting to me and read them even if it's something that's not reappearing for the weekend.

This way I avoid all the SHOCKING BREAKING NEWS that generally amounts to nothing much, I stay up to date on major issues, and I see what things are actual stories as opposed to clickbait.

If you read the news regularly you can quickly form the opinion that things are terrible. If you read up on things you'll find that in general things are better than they've ever been. Better obviously does not imply good, even so it's way better to be alive in 2020 than in 1920 everywhere on the planet.


I agree.

I went from long time news-junkie phase to no-news phase to just-enough-news phase.

Being a citizen in a democracy is an active process and the active part doesn't have to take too much time. For example, you can check news just two times a week.

For those who are saying there are no neutral news organizations, here is my take: All people are biased. Organizations are made up of people. Hence, you won't get an organization without bias.

The goal is not to find organizations with no bias. The goal is to get your news from organizations with high standards of journalistic integrity and professionalism. Organizations that are aware of thier bias and try to seperate their news coverage from thier opinion section. There are many such news organizations (probably more than any time in history). Just pick two or three such outlets and you will stay informed.


There is no possible way that the means by which you might be informed today - mass media - is going to give you an impartial view of the world, without bias towards the ruling elite.

The ruling elite long ago exercised masterful control over the masses through media manipulation - it has been a hundred years of refinement.

If you want to hold your government accountable, you need to demand more leaks and whistleblowing. This is the only effective way of keeping the power structure on its toes - because it does everything it can to maintain power, including control mass information at scale.

I've never found the "News" to be anything more than "what the elite want me to think about the world" which is why, switching it off, life got immediately better.


Happy middle: subscribe to one or two high quality sources of news (eg. NYT, WSJ). Less clickbait overload than something like Google News or Facebook, and you get acquainted with the journalists’ styles, beliefs, and perspectives over time. Slower paced.

>But part of me feels an obligation to be informed to hold those in power accountable.

I'm curious though, how does the average citizen hold those in power accountable? OK so you vote, but tons of other people vote and are often uninformed about what is going on or are completely apathetic. The recent news about Roger Stone's sentencing to me proves how little power we as average citizens have in actually holding others accountable, especially when those in power have ties to other rich, powerful, and well connected people.


What direction your outrage on that story points is a function of what media you consume. This is of course just the outrage du jour, there’s nothing unique about the Stone story in this regard.

Reading news is useful if it helps inform you about issues that you can take action to help address whether via voting or other political action.

This is most pertinent at the local level where your vote has more impact and it's more feasible to take action on specific issues when you learn about them.

Reading about presidential scandals every day when you likely already know who you're voting for just drags you down and benefits no one besides the media companies profiting off your attention.


I think OP is referring to the news that only have entertainment value and one that does not empower the citizens but makes it a spectacle. There was a Hidden Brain episode just on the news topic. It is a great listen.

Here is the link:

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/hidden-brain/id1028908...


Not much information is necessary to hold the people in power at the national level accountable. More information has little upside and significant downside in a two party democracy.

The exception I see is at the local level, where more information has more upside than downside. But I’ve also found social media dominated by national politics without much local information.


> If everyone follows the advice of avoiding the news, what effect would that have in our Govenment?

Probably not much. Lots of information that people get from the news is misleading at best anyway.

And you can do simple retrospective voting without reading the news: did I do well in the last four years? Then re-elect the party in power. Things are going badly? Then vote for an opposition party.


> did I do well in the last four years?

As in you did you personally do well financially or what have you? So you're voting as the ethical equivalent of a four year old?

The rule of law is threatened by a subtle erosion of norms in the administration of justice, but your 401k's up, so let's vote the incumbents back in?


If you want a vote that actual changes things, vote with your feet.

That vote has an enormous impact on your own life. Bigger than any ballot box.

But it also has a comparatively big impact on the place you leave behind and the place you are joining. Just your tax revenue alone will be so much more impactful than your marginal vote was.

> As in you did you personally do well financially or what have you? So you're voting as the ethical equivalent of a four year old?

Yes. But that's not because I think it's a particularly good way to vote; I just think that it would be an improvement on what people are doing de facto. See eg https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Myth_of_the_Rational_Voter


Problem is these days the news tends to be more narrative than plain news.

Even things that weren’t typically political or politicized these days they are.


Instead of reading the news you can try reading books about current and past events. History books of all stripes will inform you more than the goldfish memory of newspapers ever could. I like that I pay for a book. It makes the transaction very transparent, unlike the hidden costs of newspaper advertising.

What if the news are so distorted and harmful that it's making you worse at holding them accountable ?

I feel like the news are doing a bad job at keeping people informed about important matters anyways. They report on all kinds of other stuff just to get the eyeballs for the ads that will make them money.

So yeah, I spend my time on other things. Like for example on reading stuff on HN.


Informed how? What actionable information is the news providing that impacts you as a voter?

> But part of me feels an obligation to be informed to hold those in power accountable.

This falls into the "circle of concern > circle of influence" problem identified by Covey.


If rightwing governments ever became the good guys I guarantee you'd hear about it.

News is actually worse for me than social media. That's what I feel addicted to. I'd like to get into a state where I read my news from a quality weekly newspaper (like The Economist for global news and maybe another for domestic ones.) An spend the rest of my current time used to browse endless unimportant news to reading books, doing sports etc. But given that there are lots of actually intersting things I would like to work with and study with my computer, I have not found a way not to slip into the news chamber instead of going for a run/opening a book/ when I need a break from the stuff I do with my computer.

I did this for a while, with a couple modifications:

I tried to replace the topics I was reading about in the news with books on those same topics. You'll get far more about, say, the Israel-Palestine conflict from reading one 300 page book than you will from reading 300 1 page news articles.

On top of that I'd pick up about one news magazine or newspaper a month or so, just to stay on top of what the current issues actually were. I did this for a couple of years.

That, however, was at a period of relative stability in western politics. The truth is that right now I'm too interested in the stories that are currently unfolding to only read about them once they've become history.


I haven't watched Seattle local news in years and feel like absolutely nothing has changed at all, and I feel just as informed.

I'm slowly getting rid of national news as well, as many sources aren't there to inform, but now provide primarily gossip-y and dramatized opinions. I really don't care about your opinion as a journalist unless I'm specifically reading the opinion section. This is just the result of the monopolization of media and the profit motive behind it.

>And yet my life is the same as everyone elses. Not knowing what is going on, living in a country with a high standard of living and personal safety, doesn't affect me at all.

I often remind myself of this a lot. If I look out the window, nothing is happening, kids are playing in the yard, the sky is blue, things still go on. People tell me all of these terrible things going on, and while they probably are going on and I do care about a beneficial moral & ethical outcome, it just really has no effect on me. I know that's a privileged view and most in the world really don't have it this good, but the world goes on...


A properly functioning democracy requires voters to be well informed about political issues. Not knowing what's going on means you can't make an informed choice if or when you vote. Often, you have the choice of two or more equally unsatisfactory (or equally good) candidates so change doesn't happen and voting might not matter, but sometimes countries change very rapidly for the worse, like Germany did in 1933, so it isn't always possible to stay insulated from events.

Of course, many news sources are unreliable, or biased, and most voters are poorly informed or easily manipulated, and many important issues are so complex that learning about them would take up most of people's spare time, but if people make more of an effort to stay informed, and learn to recognize bias and disinformation, and vote accordingly, things might become better than they would otherwise be.


I'm pretty sure I would hear about kids breaking shop owners windows for being of a certain cultural origin. Even without checking the news.

Like I said, some news manages to filter through to me. And it's often completely pointless.

For example Youtube sometimes recommends news from my country to me, even if I never watch it. in 2019 I can remember them recommending news about some missing girl up north. But I had to hear from my friends about a handicapped guy who was shot 25 times by the police for playing with a toy gun. They didn't recommend that one.

I do vote btw. Since I don't consider myself capable of keeping up with politics I vote with my instincts, as most others. I either vote for the social democrats/left or the green party.

I don't fuss over details or little missteps they might have done. I believe the green party has the right direction and their voice needs to be stronger in parliament. Equally I believe the left still cares about workers rights and unions.


> I'm pretty sure I would hear about kids breaking shop owners windows for being of a certain cultural origin. Even without checking the news.

If you're referring to Kristallnacht that would have been about five years too late. It's happened more recently, elsewhere.

Political parties change what they stand for over time, sometimes drastically.


I kind of agree with Aaron Swartz: http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/hatethenews

What following then news gives you is more chaos and disinformation. Every time there is a vote coming up, you can look up information on all important things collected nicely afer they've been settled, by people following politics.

What I'm arguing for is to stay well-informed, and that usually involves delving a bit deeper than just passively listening to news broadcasts or passively reading news sites.

Yes, you can visit web sites which help you to decide who to vote for by asking you questions (and which, incidentally, collect your responses for whatever purpose they choose), but your answers, and the recommendation of who to vote for, might change if you became better informed.


I totally buy your argument that an informed public is a good thing and a requirement for a functioning democracy.

I vehemently disagree that the current news media is the way to reach that goal. As things stand as of this moment I think we would be better off if nobody read the news.

Misinformed is no better than uninformed, and often worse.


> I vehemently disagree that the current news media is the way to reach that goal.

Yes, you need to learn what's happening, and why, from a variety of sources.


Same for me. I use Leechblock on my computer and AdGuard on my phone. Both pull a blocklist from pastebin that includes nearly news website I've ever visited -- nearly 200 of them. I occasionally add new ones that I encounter while surfing.

If I avoid all news to the extent that I no longer no what's been going on in the last few months, my anxiety level goes way way down. There's a washout period of a couple weeks, and after that it gets really easy; I no longer feel the need to pop dopamine with tidbits of current events. Not even a little. I avoid it like a former addict avoids drugs.


> Not knowing what is going on, living in a country with a high standard of living and personal safety, doesn't affect me at all.

Even if you lived in a country with a low standard of living and less personal safety ... would knowing about the world events really change anything? Important local things usually don't make the national or world news, yet you tend to learn them unless you're completely isolated.

And the world events that would change things for anyone anywhere, like being on on the brink of nuclear war ... would you knowing about it have any effect on it?


I read a great book, "Designing Your Life" by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, that said "A problem you can't change isn't a problem, it's a truth and you have to accept it". I think that mental reframing helps process effectively immutable events.

In life, society and politics, most things aren’t strictly immutable or mutable in a binary way though. What may be impossible for a single person to change, may still be subject to collective action - and collective action arises from the cumulative pressures, tensions and frustrations of many individuals. If all those individuals avoid information that could evoke these pressures, that collective action will never come into existence.

That does not seem to account for most political and social issues that you can't do much for alone, but millions of people together can bring positive change with little individual effort.

What's up INTPenis (you can call me ISTPsycho if you want).

My dysfunctional family members are always getting riled up online, blocking each other, quitting and quietly rejoining, etc. Some of them are into politics, which makes it worse.

I think there must be an addictive component to this stuff -- not just the FB scroolers, but the twitter outragers, the SJW cancel cultists. There's a pornographic aspect to the spectacle of it all that needs to be acknowledged.


Hello kindred spirit. I also feel completely outside of family drama.

The curse I carry is that I have a very good memory. So I'm relatively young still but I feel like everything just goes round and round.

Plagues in the news, terrorist attacks, family feuds. It all just repeats.


Yeah, I totally agree. I quit this past May except for the occasional half hour to hour news/comedy show every week or less. In over half a year, I haven't missed anything important. If something is truly important, it'll filter through and I will look it up specifically. If not, even if it is center stage and historical news, it's really irrelevant. It speaks wonders to the helplessness and hopelessness in this country, however. There is little any one of us can do to change anything. So I stopped trying and hoping and I am less depressed, less angry, and more into my own life and doing things that I enjoy. I'm still just as helpless as before. No change there. Also, one doesn't need to go cold turkey. Reading the news once a week or even once a month would be plenty. Few news stories move fast enough that they require daily or even weekly attention. None affect my life, really.

Is HN not social media?

That's debatable. Where is the social element? If you stretch the definition of social media long enough you could also call the usenet, mailing lists or Wikipedia social media.

HN isn't really about human connections or personal interactions. We might discuss them, but HN isn't designed or usually used for creating them.


The comment section, submissions themselves, upvotes, and the user profiles - some of them even reaching celebrity-like status, for better or worse - are social elements in my eyes. And yes, I would also classify the usenet and mailing lists as social media. As for Wikipedia, maybe certain parts.

On the other end you have traditional media with fewer social elements and a limited number of content publishers: the press, books, television, radio, and read-only websites.


> Where is the social element?

Right here in the comments.


It's news at the very least. It's in the name.

I gave up on cable and eventually live TV for similar reasons. I would rather read the news than be subjected to someone's sensational idea of news, which I now call olds because it's just the same thing rehashed over and over. That lead me to give up on Facebook, which I found to be the same thing rehashed over and over by different people.

I don't even watch live TV anymore, unless something I'm actually interested in is happening. I've actually watched Senate and House proceedings and election results on public TV (over the air, since I quit cable years ago), and gotten more informarion tham any news channel could dish out.

I am about to quit Twitter, because I realize how utterly useless it is. And I'll probably quit Mastodon, too, because I don't use it either.

So many people say "I can't leave, because I want to keep up with X." Since I've quit Facebook, people call and text me more than before. In lieu of sending out some mass communication and blaming me for not seeing it in a flood of atrocious content, people who want to stay connected take the time to do so in a more direct way.


Same here! Since quitting the news I'm much happier and have much more time and energy to devote to fun and productive things.

In some ways, I actually like bad news. It reminds me of my fragility, immortality, and weaknesses. It reminds me to be thankful of what I have, and maybe one day too join the losing battle of making the world a better place. And for the context of my faith, it reminds me there is a better place I'm hoping to be.

This will get lost in all the other comments, but I switched to just the BBC, The Economist, and FiveThirtyEight for news this year, rather than spending muuuuuch too much time getting my news from Reddit-linked sites.

My mental health has never been better, and I’m not sure I’ve missed anything important.


Just like I have had use of dating apps (they are simply indispensable in today's society, at least where I live, for someone who wants to date and is no longer in the "dozens of friends in the city" demographic), I sometimes feel a need for a social networking app/website that helps me keep in touch with updates from friends' lives especially now when we literally are countries and continents away. WhatsApp groups and WhatsApp statuses just doesn't cut it.

If only there was a feature rich app with a clean and pleasant interface (would prefer it to be paid). The defunct app Path comes to mind. It was quite good except that it was a privacy nightmare too.

But then their "life" updates would start to be overwhelmingly overrun by their fake, political, spam updates.


I still read the news, just to stay up to date, but I gave up trying to engage in discussions about it. I still like discussing politics, but only with close friends who I've known for years, they won't blatantly disregard my opinion because I have a different one.

I quit politics on Facebook. Just aggressively unfollow anyone who regularly posts political stuff (whether I agree or not).

That alone has turned my feed into my friends families and their kids, sports trash talking and the more urgent or relevant local stuff. It’s great.


My wife is from Canada so I spend a lot of time in BC. The effect of not being surrounded by American news is almost transformative. At my home in austin it can be 6am and "the president did this awful thing...there was a murder over here...the senate did this awful thing...there was a terrorist threat over there..." morning ews in canada is "a bear was spotted in the park and we are facing a syrup shortage."

TLDR: if you want to improve your well being, first recommendation is to start drinking a gallon of water per day. Second recommendation is to avoid the news, especially the political stuff.


That's interesting but I have to say that I don't think it's about geography specifically.

We have sensationalist news here in Europe too. Hard right wing parties gaining power by the day. Refugee homes set on fire.

All this has filtered through to me even without watching the news. I'm still aware of it without seeking it out.

If you live in the states and have a relatively good life, safety net through a good insurance and a stable job, then I don't think you should worry about the news.

Of course I can only guess. I can only speculate based on what I read about the United States on forums. It sounds awful. IT workers especially are often very vulnerable without unions.

So in the US I can totally understand the desire to stay abreast of what's going on.


One would really have to be in a position of privilege to be able to do that.

> Not knowing what is going on, living in a country with a high standard of living and personal safety, doesn't affect me at all.

But how long does that persist? The real battle in politics today is not so much between left and right as between "fixers" and "wreckers", and if you're one of the categories of people targeted for wrecking things can potentially get very bad very fast.

We live in a world of long, carefully constructed, lean supply chains. It may not be obvious what fractures the chain and results in serious problems.


Even "good" "productive" things like YouTube videos contributed massively to my depression. Cutting off YouTube was the real kicker that changed my life for the better.

That constant dopamine cycle...might as well just do coke and at least have great sex :)


The "choose one" meme, but with "stay informed" and "stay sane."

Interesting. Recently, I saw a local news program for the first time in years, and I couldn't believe how many negative and depressing stories they ran.

I stopped reading news a long time ago. IF I click on a news to read, I usually head to the comments section first and don't even bother reading the news.

"doesn't affect me at all. "

If you consciously tune it out, how do you know it doesn't affect you?

Answer: you can't know. But it does.


buy those people a copy of this book and put your relationship on hold with them until they ready it:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07TD6FVHG/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?...


More and more i feel that the old World had a natural self structuring. We deregulated it mostly.

How long have you quit the news for?

I sometimes do that but I'm never able to quit it permanently.


Yeah. So what if the Reichstag burned down? Doesn't really change my day to day life.

You are presumably being sarcastic, but in a lot of ways it illustrates the point. The Reichstag fire was a false-flag operation, used to justify an emergency decree. People who read the news were misinformed about the event.

By that time, it was already too late. They had elected a paranoid, despotic government a month before, and the fire itself was merely a fig leaf for things they were going to do anyway. They'd been using the media as propaganda for years, counting on people who read newspaper articles to be easily terrorized, and vote in a government that promised security.

It wasn't the fire that changed their lives. It was their belief in the daily media. If they took a calmer, more skeptical approach, things might have turned out better for them.


Having the privilege to live in complete ignorant bliss is nice I guess.

What could go wrong?


This assertions along the lines of "it's a privilege to be able to be politically disengaged" is just an empty slogan weaponizing empathy to guilt whoever it's directed at towards supporting your political leaning.

It's also a privilege to be able to be politically engaged. Both ways of being are completely protected and legal (in America at least). And both privileges are available to all - even the disadvantaged groups that the slogan implies must be politically engaged for their own survival. It would probably serve their self interest to be more engaged, sure, but in reality they still have the choice. The ethical standard of mandatory political engagement that you're appealing to is not universally recognized or enforced. And if you think of places/times where that ethic of mandatory political life is or was enforced, do you really want to be like that?


I think the idea is that if you are privileged enough to have the time to be politically engaged, you are morally obligated to use that privilege to make society more just. Failing to do so is a moral failure. Note that this perspective could be equally applied regardless of other frames of reference, e.g. it could equally mean you feel obligated to advocate for UBI or lower taxes, whatever you think would make the biggest difference.

"is just an empty slogan weaponizing empathy to guilt whoever it's directed at towards supporting your political leaning."

What a wildly defensive response to something that wasn't even directed at you. Or maybe YOU think it was and believe it, which is why you got defensive.

See, If you are rich you don't need to worry about issues that impact the poor. If you are white you don't need to worry about issues that impact blacks. If you are a man you don't need to worry about issues that impact women. If you are straight, you don't need to worry about issues that affect gays.

Sensing a pattern?


I'm criticizing the assertion on it's logical merits (or lack thereof). You're ignoring the substance of my critique, and making a borderline ad-hominem attack on me, including attempting to guilt me for my presumed identity. So yea, I'm sensing a pattern...

> You're ignoring the substance of my critique

"Substance" is being mighty generous. It was more like a temper tantrum than a critique. Shall we review?

You started with:

"...an empty slogan weaponizing empathy to guilt whoever it's directed at towards supporting your political leaning."

Wow, that's quite a claim. Let's see how you back it up...

Oh wait, you didn't. You simply state "both sides are good people" in not so many words. Sure, it is an explanation, but HARDLY a logical explanation.

And then you ended with this gem:

"And if you think of places/times where that ethic of mandatory political life is or was enforced, do you really want to be like that?"

Your fallacious ethical balancing act completely ignores the substance of privilege, you simply choose to ignore the concept! Way to dodge the issue.

Whereas I gave concrete examples as to why it is a privilege to be disengaged.

So spare me your bleeding-heart puling about "weaponization" of truth. It is people like you who hide behind "logic" yet fail to actually use it that are the problem.


If something goes seriously wrong I will hear it via word of mouth. I would also notice something change in stock prices, gas prices, and many other vital signs of the hyper-connected global economy that I interact with every day. I guess if everyone I ever talk to follows me in quitting the news, I will consider checking it occasionally.

I don't watch the news. Stopped 4 years ago.

If something is important enough, someone within my circle will inform me of it.

Most things on the news is terrible for you, why? Because the majority of stuff you can't actually action and your brain processes it as a threat I.e war in the middle east.

Think globally, act locally.


It's far from complete ignorant bliss, things aren't that black and white.

Another commenter said I would have missed the nationalist party in germany starting to harass jews if I didn't watch the news. My reply below:

I'm pretty sure I would hear about kids breaking shop owners windows for being of a certain cultural origin. Even without checking the news.

Like I said, some news manages to filter through to me. And it's often completely pointless.

For example Youtube sometimes recommends news from my country to me, even if I never watch it. in 2019 I can remember them recommending news about some missing girl up north. But I had to hear from my friends about a handicapped guy who was shot 25 times by the police for playing with a toy gun. They didn't recommend that one.

I do vote btw. Since I don't consider myself capable of keeping up with politics I vote with my instincts, as most others. I either vote for the social democrats/left or the green party.

I don't fuss over details or little missteps they might have done. I believe the green party has the right direction and their voice needs to be stronger in parliament. Equally I believe the left still cares about workers rights and unions.


Complete ignorance is the conclusion of that line of thinking. The fact that this person hears "some" news is only an unfortunate consequence of existing in a world with other people. If they could they would remove that from their lives too so they could be even happier.

Complete ignorance was the premise of my remark so it doesn't really make sense to say it's far from complete ignorance.


>And yet my life is the same as everyone elses. Not knowing what is going on, living in a country with a high standard of living and personal safety, doesn't affect me at all.

The fact that it doesn't affect you means you're in an incredibly privileged position in your country, your life is not the same as everyone else's.


How would somebody less privileged be negatively affected by not knowing about the news? Mind you, it's not about being affected by what's in the news, of course you're affected when the government decides on a new policy ... but how does knowing about it on the same day or in the same hour mitigate that?

" of course you're affected when the government decides on a new policy ... but how does knowing about it on the same day or in the same hour mitigate that?"

It saves people a nasty surprise when the policies they relied upon fall out from under them, or to try and head off future issues by calling up their representatives. For example, I was able to call up my representative regarding changes in immigration policy. Because other people aren't paying attention and don't call their representatives, I actually have an outsized voice and influence on the matter!


Policies don't disappear the very next day, though. It's not that somebody that relies on some policy will be left stranded at the bus stop because he didn't watch the news that day that the program has been canceled.

RE becoming politically active: it's good to be informed, I totally agree. But that's not something you get from the news. I can't imagine you watching CNN and saying "whaaaaaat? I'm going to call my representative right now". You'll usually have that filtered by whatever organization/initiative you delegate that to. They will relay the important stuff to you and ask you to become active. That's very different from watching the news imho.


I actually do in fact read a few news sources to get a pulse on local happenings and call my representative upon situations like becoming a sanctuary city.

I know, imagine if social security went away because hezbollah was killing people. Definitely need to pay attention in case that happens!

How does consuming the news on a delayed basis address the issue of being distressed by the news?

Most things aren't consumed on a delayed basis, because they turn out to be irrelevant. News is a fast-paced thing, like a soap opera. I've never seen anyone binge watch a year of soap opera, and it's similar for the news.

Use a filter by reading a monthly or quarterly publication. You will get the information (that's still considered print-worthy after the next news cycle), but not the hectic, emotional manipulation and outrage.


I open facebook for 2 minutes a week and scroll through my relatives' baby and pet pictures. I don't get how the site is such a specter of misery for some people

Twitter I would understand a little better. It's such a tar pit of negative energy, insults, rage bait, etc


I'm very happy that there are those that can interact with Facebook without negative side effects. If you're in that category, I hope the site adds value to you and you enjoy it.

I can't. Yes, it's a failure on me, but my experience is better without Facebook in my life.

You mention negativity, and that's part of it. I saw a steady stream of "the world's on fire" type posts. The other side, the rosy view of my friends and family also wasn't great. It was a steady stream of my brain using this as a chance to remind me I can't live up to these people, that I'm falling behind, and that in general, I suck.

It's not true. I could have crafted an equal fantasy and posted it, but I'm not that person. I could let the positive and negative posts go without influencing my mental well-being, but I'm apparently not that person.

All of this is a long way of saying, for me, Facebook is baggage I had to carry around with me. I didn't need to open it, but I knew it was there, ready to mock me at any time. Now my account is gone, and that bit of unnecessary baggage is gone. It added nothing to my life, only made it worse.


It sounds like your two feeds are very different. I didn’t like facebook, then unfollowed everyone except immediate family. It’s nice now! Not distracting, occasional baby pictures.

One of facebook’s worst long run mistakes was optimizing for engagement vs. enjoyment. It boosts metrics but makes people quit or go cold turkey.

Instagram has never felt like that.


Facebook doesn't care about enjoyment. They want to maximize eyes on the screen time and sell that for maximum ad revenue. If you are someone who would like to spend 5 minutes a week on Facebook catching up with friends they do not care about you.

Possible. But I used facebook a lot more when I enjoyed it. I enjoy instagram now for example and use it a lot.

Facebook showed me stuff I didn’t care about it that aggravated me, so I stopped using it. now I’m in thE 5 min a week category. But I’d rather follow more people, but only the important stuff


They may not care about you, but that doesn't mean we can't mold it to meet our needs.

I try to behave on Facebook like it's 2005 again, before the outrage or glamour.

That being said I think it's totally reasonable that the difficulty each of us experiences in trying to exert such control will vary.


My family only reposts articles and never has anything to say themselves.

Sounds like a problem with your family and not Facebook. But quitting Facebook will indeed help you distance yourself from all of that, so, I guess, it is still a net benefit.

Right, which is why the result in the headline seems misdirected. "Facebook quitters" are, in fact, a special group. They/you recognized problems that were addressed by quitting facebook! And the study found that when this population removes something they feel is a problem, they feel better. That's... not really surprising, if you think about it. And importantly, it's not a result that says "social media will make everyone feel bad".

I'm one of the normies like the grandparent comment. I don't use Facebook all that much, and most of what I see there is just a stream of banal life events from a selection of people that I'd otherwise not hear from. Most of it isn't that interesting directly, but I'll admit that my life is enriched by retaining these relationships I'd otherwise have dropped. It's definitely not something I feel bad after using.

Obviously that's not your experience, and there's nothing wrong with that. Certainly you shouldn't be forced to use this platform if it makes you unhappy. Really this just goes down to "people are all different and we all have to find our paths through the world". Technology changes the battlefield a little at the margins, but it hasn't changed the war.


> most of what I see there is just a stream of banal life events from a selection of people that I'd otherwise not hear from

This was part of the problem for me; it made me think I had more friends than I actually did. What I really had was an app that showed me what everyone I used to know at some point was up to, and many of us start to mistake that for friendship. At some point I had the epiphany that I don't really know the kids from my high school friend circle anymore, and keeping up with them doesn't improve my life. We had our time, the friendship fizzled out as they tend to do, and the healthiest thing for me was to just move on.

My life improved after quitting Facebook because it forced me to be more intentional with who I spend my time on. Rather than passively blasting everyone's news feed with something, I send it individually to the people I want to see it. It makes me be an active participant in friendships, which is something I've had trouble with (at least when using Facebook).


You just changed my mind a little about Facebook. I mean, I still think they’re a threat to democracy, but you made me see the value of a feed with a small group of people.

This is an interesting comment to me. Your conscious mind says you received no value, when reflecting. Yet your behavior indicated that you got enough value to create a compulsion.

What a funny world we live in, in our heads.


>your conscious mind says you received no value, when reflecting. Yet your behavior indicated that you got enough value to create a compulsion

well social media is designed to give you little dopamine hits all the time and we all know when we think about it for a second that the constant, cheap stimulation is bad, but it also hijacks our lizard brains and it's designed to work that way.

The big problem I think is that we let the designers of these applications get away with exactly the 'your preferences indicate you like it' line, well the same applies to gamblers in a casino.


I mean, the same can be said about gambling.

I refused to get on FB for many years, until I was finally convinced to do it. I never did more than post funny pictures I found around the internet.

And then the next political cycle hit and I straight up quit. I found the political ads more offensive than anything, and I've never been back since.

FB is a terrible place, ignore the poster you're responding to because they very well could be putting on airs while you're trying to be more honest about things. That's the nature of social media, of which HN is included.


I drink one glass of fine red wine once a week while having a nice conversation with a good friend. On other occasions I have a shot of strong brandy before stepping out on a cold winter evening. I don't get how alcohol is such a specter of misery for some people.

Similarly: Alcohol quitters report more life satisfaction, less depression, and anxiety

Implicit in your statement is the proposition that quitters are a self-selected group of people with a disordered consumption pattern - a moderate social drinker is not going to quit.

But I do recall an instance where everyone in some college class or something were supposed to abstain from social media for a week, whether they had a healthy relationship with it or not and the group reported substantial increases in life satisfaction.


Without a reference, this comment doesn’t indicate anything.

If I asked you to abstain from any behavior for a week to see if it would improve your life... I bet most studies would show abstention helped.

The relevant question is how this intervention helped, compared to other interventions that could be seen as similar. Eg, if you didn’t watch tv for a week, how would you feel?


I don't have a TV, I only watch at other peoples places. I think I'd feel worse if I became "that guy" and started having issues with it.

I don't get how alcohol quitters experience more life satisfaction, less depression, and anxiety.

(Also, worst Oxford comma ever...)


Actually, those who drink in moderation are more successful and happy than those who quit.

So what you're saying is people without an addiction are happier than people who are addicted? Shocking stuff

What I'm saying is that the analogy of alcohol is not helpful.

Social Networking is not inherently toxic, and quitting many things: sugar, television, even meat, might have the similar effects for some small group of people.

In fact, the entire thread is based on three levels of indirection of misinformation: the Bloomberg article misquoted the paper, and the short-summary referencing Bloomberg made it worse.

Here is the summary of the findings [1]:

"We find that deactivating Facebook for the four weeks before the 2018 US midterm election (i) reduced online activity while increasing offline activities such as watching TV alone and socializing with family and friends; (ii) reduced both factual news knowledge and political polarization; (iii) increased subjective well-being; and (iv) caused a large persistent reduction in post-experiment Facebook use"

So that's a little bit more information now isn't it? And completely conflates the Facebook/wellbeing issue with a host of other things.

Most poignantly, stopping Facebook usage reduced the amount of factual knowledge a person had access too. So maybe that's not so good?

Maybe by 'removing Facebook' people are simply a little bit more removed from the issues of the day (like elections) many of which can be contentious.

So 'ignorance is bliss' is the result of the study? Or is it really something materially related to Social Networking.

I think we'll need to do some more studying to find out.

[] http://web.stanford.edu/~gentzkow/research/facebook.pdf


Or that people who perceive themselves as doing something unhealthy may feel better in a short window after they make a change they think will makes them happier?

How can we distinguish the effect from a general “I’m making a change” groundswell of feel goodery?


I believe they have re-run the study or further examined it and determined that the causality is reversed.

Picking up moderate drinking isn't going to make you healthier / more successful.

It's just that successful people tend to be healthier and also are more likely to have a healthy relationship with alcohol.


If this is the case, quitting drinking will still not likely yield 'more happiness' ergo, the fact remains.

When you quit Facebook do you puke for 5 days straight and shake violently all the while?

I can't upvote a second time, but this was a very good use of analogy. I am going to save this for later.

Fair point, but the analogy is off: the feeds aren’t the same. Most people don’t get too anxious about relatives babies and pets.

It’s like one person has juice and the other has brandy.


You know what's off ? GP's comment about how he doesn't get why and how Facebook's usage is problematic for some. On HN. Where we have been talking about every aspects of Facebook every 6th submissions for years.

If there's one truth to social networks its that everyone's experiences on them are different, based on who you're connected to, where you grew up, what life stage you're in, and whether you have interests adjacent to toxic or problematic spaces. It's quite similar to the adage "you are the average of the five people you know best", but on a global scale. Radically different experiences can emerge from the same platform.

Personally, my experiences on FB are extremely tame and similar to yours. However I intentionally sabotaged my experience by unfollowing nearly everyone several years ago. Even my rather fallow feed is an engine of engagement and addictive impulse, in part because of years of conditioning myself to go there when I was bored.


Some people are more heavily integrated into the platform. My SO is a part of multiple groups based around common hobbies/preference in memes. Although there's a lot of good content in these groups they can get pretty toxic. Also, seeing your immediate family post political rants/flame other family members or random people on the internet can be disheartening.

I think if you have basic bitch-ass friend who are always posting about "living their #bestlife" and/or are at risk of starting drama, you're in for a shitty time on Facebook. More so if you're like this yourself.

People with lives to lead off social media have fewer of these problems.


Don't really remember how, but my family switched to using a single snapchat group to share baby and pet pics, which imo works better for that use case. Even taught my grandmother how to open stories, even if she sometimes gets lost when they update the app. Maybe not much better than FB on most issues, but it's nice to get in and out without the facebook timesink, and these kids (probably) don't have to worry about embarrassing pictures on the public internet forever.

GroupMe is another alternative which works similarly. Have two sets of social groups which use that instead of Facebook.

My FB experience is like yours, but I had to mute friends and family who are perpetually outraged, as well as those who ask for help every day on things like which shoelaces to buy. I also raised the feed prominence for people who rarely post.

Similarly for Twitter, I don't follow people who post ragebait or feel the need to comment on everything.


I'm just like you. Friends' family, dogs, humor posts. I've aggressively unfollowed connections who exhibit/show behavior/posts/lifestyles I don't want to be exposed to.

Take control of your social media. It's great!


People can feel obligated to post those pictures. There's social pressure to respond to posts. Deleting Facebook can be easier than the social friction of using it but breaking perceived social obligations.

Right. My use of Facebook is similar. I almost never look at my 'feed'. I search on specific people and look at what they post, but on variable intervals. I'll look at a few people's posts once a day. Others, once a week, etc.

> I don't get how the site is such a specter of misery for some people

I understand what you're saying; it doesn't have much sway over me either. But it does over a lot of other folks, by design. And that pull is very real, and quite powerful.


> I don't get how the site is such a specter of misery for some people

That's fine, great even, but do you believe those people are reporting their own experiences accurately?


> Twitter I would understand a little better. It's such a tar pit of negative energy, insults, rage bait, etc

And orange website isn't?


twitter is mostly anonymous users shitposting and dunking on each other.

facebook is all your friends' racist friends yelling at you, interspersed with bizarre ads for products you'll never buy and sponsored links to phony news sites. it's a completely different dynamic and it's much more insidious.


Yeah I'm really confused by the whole "my life got so much better when I got off FB" trope. I don't spend a lot of time on Facebook, but my time spent there is generally pretty positive - I really enjoy getting updates from my friends and family and seeing their photos.

I'm confused by it too, but I see it in some members of my family. Full grown, middle aged adults, absolutely ADDICTED to their Facebook feed. Sitting in a room full of people and glued to Facebook. I don't get it, but I can say without adult that those who are addicted to FB are also the most unhappy. So I see that correlation in my own life. I don't know that FB causes or contributes to their unhappiness, or if maybe it's an escape for them, but I see it.

There a 'depressing' side of passive information intake. It satisfies but thinly. If your life is not balanced you can kinda get stuck on thin, aptly named, feed.

I don't get it either. Then again I don't get how Twitter or any of social media site could be either.. thin skin I guess.

There are plenty of people who claim (Facebook|Twitter) is what you make of it.

But it seems to me that there's a substantive difference between the default-circles of Facebook where you see what your 'friends' post/share, and the default-broadcast of Twitter where more things are shouted publicly to the ether.

To be sure, posts on either can be 100% public, and, in theory, you only see what you 'follow' on Twitter, but the design of the platforms is very different, and they have very different incentive structures. (Despite Facebook's incessant drive to increase engagement).


depends on which bubble you find yourself in, I guess.

And I think depression and anxiety comes more from all the terrible "news" you get from around the world, it probably applies to "news" in general.


not sure if you're being flippant re: 2 minutes but that's almost certainly undersold. you'll have to forgive me but i'm extremely skeptical of that claim if made seriously.

Righto. I've found that I'm much happier and have more "life satisfaction" when I use Facebook.

But I also use Facebook primarily for organizing events and group activities.


Some steps for making Facebook more manageable:

1. Deliberately go through and prune your friends list down to people you actually interact with or care about updates from

2. Any time someone shares something you think is dumb, click on the corner of the post and select "Hide all from <page>". This lets you hide anything your friends share from various meme sites without blocking their legitimate posts

3. Any time you see an ad for a product you don't care about or don't want to see, click "Hide ad" then it will pop up a dialog and you can select "Hide all ads from <company>"

4. Go through your "liked" pages and unlike / unfollow any that are irrelevant to you.

I do all of the above and Facebook often just stops loading content for me after the first 20 or so posts.

My wife does none of the above and can easily scroll for an hour without reaching an end to the content.


After a friend, who always posted on social media about how great their life was going, suddenly committed suicide, I quit all social media and never looked back. That was two years ago and I don’t miss any of it. On social media there is a sort of relentless peer pressure to come across as having a perfect life and I think that’s really unhealthy. I have found that having sincere relationships with a few good friends outweighs a bunch of vapid “likes” from a horde of casual acquaintances.

I'd say Facebook brings out the Narcissus in all of us. Narcissus was cursed by Nemesis to become a flower.

from wikipedia:

> One day Narcissus was walking in the woods when Echo, an Oread (mountain nymph) saw him, fell deeply in love, and followed him. Narcissus sensed he was being followed and shouted "Who's there?". Echo repeated "Who's there?" She eventually revealed her identity and attempted to embrace him. He stepped away and told her to leave him alone. She was heartbroken and spent the rest of her life in lonely glens until nothing but an echo sound remained of her. Nemesis (as an aspect of Aphrodite[4]), the goddess of revenge, noticed this behaviour after learning the story and decided to punish Narcissus. Once, during the summer, he was getting thirsty after hunting, and the goddess lured him to a pool where he leaned upon the water and saw himself in the bloom of youth. Narcissus did not realize it was merely his own reflection and fell deeply in love with it, as if it were somebody else. Unable to leave the allure of his image, he eventually realized that his love could not be reciprocated and he melted away from the fire of passion burning inside him, eventually turning into a gold and white flower.


I haven't logged in to Facebook for about three years. When that 'off-Facebook data we have on you' page was released recently, I worked up the courage* to try to login, see it, and then finally 'delete' my account.

(*I've been slightly concerned that it will be depressing one way or the other, either three years' messages and invitations to things I missed, or little of that! Since I just sort of stopped logging in, I never posted that I wasn't using it for example.)

But I couldn't login. Facebook wanted me to prove my identity by contacting a set of my 'friends' that it chose, and I had no idea who they were. The only other option was to upload a scan of my passport, which felt a bit much considering my only aim was to get off properly and be appalled at the data it already has on me.


Completely insane to me that a social networking website wants to see your passport. If that isn’t some Gibson-esque cyberpunk dystopian elements creeping into our real world, then I don’t know what is.

That's how they prevent you from deleting the data, so they can keep it.

I use FB almost exclusively for news about the Middle East, especially Syria where the Assad regime actively targets journalists who tell the truth about what is happening there and very few Western journalists are going into the areas the regime is bombing. I have vowed to not use FB once the regime is gone, people can gather freely, and real news media can operate openly.

My FB feed is mostly depressing these days, as it is filled with images of (among other things) maimed and murdered children. I can see how avoiding that would probably make me happier and more productive, but FB also helps me stay up to date on amazing humanitarian work being done in liberated areas. I also feel that burying my head in the sand would be a betrayal of my fellow Syrians who have, and still are, sacrificing so that my children as well as theirs won’t have to fear state terrorism.


You got to be kidding me. You "exclusively" rely on FB for news? That's like trusting a Nigerian scammer with your money!

> You got to be kidding me. You rely on FB "exclusively" for news? That's like trusting a Nigerian scammer with your money!

Context is important. In this case, he actually has some pretty defensible reasons for using Facebook this way: active suppression of local independent journalists and low activity by independent Western journalists. My guess is his alternative to Facebook is probably some pro-Assad propaganda rag. As bad as Facebook is, that's worse.

Your reaction would be more appropriate for someone chose to rely on FB for news about the US or Western Europe.


al jazeera is a perfectly good source of real middle east news. The economist isn't bad. Facebook is entirely unreliable as a news source because for every real post that shows you how things really are, you get two lies.

As just one measure, FB themselves deleted over 3 Billion fake accounts between april and sept last year. These are accounts that provided a phone number for verification. The disinformation operations on that site are like nothing anyone has ever seen.


Al Jazeera is the opposite of reputable journalism. Just look into their ties with the government's of the oil producing Arab States as well as their support for the OIC

They're also responsible for things like extremely biased reporting against Myanmar (no reporting about Ang sang su kyis speech at the genocide tribunal except "she didn't say the word rohinga!"). It's no surprise that there's also a strong campaign by the OIC to slander Myanmar which is running concurrently


That's not how I interpreted it. I thought he meant that he didn't use Facebook for other things.

Yes, your interpretation is correct.

One of the benefits of social media is supposed to be transparency, and I believe that. However, isn't it an indictment of global callousness that so many people have seen Assad's destruction of Syria and no one is helping? In fact, Russia's bot armies far outnumber Syrian refugees on Facebook, and they're spreading confusion on the whole situation. They're making it seem like Syria is some sectarian black hole, where no one is innocent, and global action will accomplish nothing. That keeps everyone else out, Russia and Iran in, and leaves Syrians to be genocided day in and day out. More people rallied behind Kony 2012, even though it was a campaign of lies. The American public has been successfully and systematically jaded into glossing over the whole Syrian tragedy.

Facebook is probably a net-negative for Syrians all things considered. Your social network may know the truth of who is committing 98% of the crimes, who invited ISIS/terrorists into Syria, and who is responsible for a modern-day genocide (half a million people erased from existence so far), but unfortunately that's not the case for the vast majority of people.

After Syria is destroyed, the history books will ask: how did we allow that to happen? What happened to Never Again? Social media will be part of the answer. We are reduced to tears when watching a film about Rwanda, and merely confused when hearing about Syria. Dictators love it when you are confused, because truth is their greatest enemy. In a state of confusion, the truth is not fully resolved. Moral clarity is dead. The solution starts with caring strongly about this problem. Only then can we begin to address it.

I would be pleasantly surprised if we're not both downvoted. You have my solidarity. I know how hard it is for you to receive zero empathy, and sometimes even aggression, when speaking the truth of who slaughtered your people and deprived you of your country. Keep telling the truth regardless. Part of the problem (of confusion and jadedness) inadvertently originated in the tech industry, and part of the solution will come from the tech industry. It won't know or care about the issue until victims come forth and make the problem clear. The tech industry needs to hear your voice. Creating a tool that is, on net, an accessory to perpetrators of genocide and manipulators of the public, without fixing it, is very, very problematic. Separately, Youtube is deleting video evidence of the genocide (even though it said it doesn't mean to). Many of the posters of those videos are no longer alive, or not in a situation where they can raise a dispute with Youtube. That is perfectly legal, and almost noone knows or cares.

---------------------------------------------------------

FACEBOOK, GOOGLE, are you listening? A GENOCIDE is going on. Facebook, your platform is being leveraged by the perpetrators of genocide as a modern-day Pravda of epic proportions. Google/Youtube, you are continuing to delete critical video evidence of the genocide from your servers forever even though activists put you on notice. Help.


Honestly the real reason why Americans don't care is that many absolutely, unconsciously or consciously, believe that syrians (and those not from a first world country) are subhuman. I don't see a world without these horrors until Americans can gain an authentic ethic of compassion and can humanize the subaltern others "over there" which is honestly pretty fricken unlikely

The US had a moment to help when the Free Syrian Army existed in the first year or so of the conflict. For some reason, our leaders had cold feet and allowed our natural ally to be wiped out.

The UN was hamstrung by Russia and China's veto power.

No smaller power was willing to take on Russia in a proxy war.


Even beyond militaristic action, there are so many low hanging fruit that weren't picked. It took until 2019 to sanction any appreciable number of people in the Syrian regime. Many relatives and employees of the Syrian regime are happily flying back and forth between Damascus and Europe. Their illicit assets are safely parked in foreign bank accounts. They're sending their kids to LA and San Francisco, buying $2M homes with straight cash and going to the best private schools. Severe sanctions should have hit anyone even remotely involved with the Syrian government as soon as it became clear how many innocent people were going to be killed. Foreign assets should have been seized as damages to be distributed to the Syrian people in the future.

Sure, but I find these sorts of sanctions to be ineffective at the stated goals of preventing killings, etc. And Russia and China, at least, were not planning to participate, leaving a wide open avenue. The UNSC couldn't pass sanctions because of their vetoes.

America and Europe can only be hamstrung by Russia's veto if they allow that to happen. There are many global measures that could have helped the Syrian people outside of any action by the UN Security Council. Nonetheless, I agree with you that America left a void of leadership, and that allowed Russia to walk in unimpeded. The Syrian people were about to oust their dictator until Russia came in with reinforcements. My point is, America wouldn't have even needed to send in the Air Force. The most important course of action would have been to prevent Russian entry. That could entail a guarantee that "if Russia or Iran enters Syria, we will create a civilian safe zone using the Air Force." The safe zone would have both saved civilian life and protected the FSA from aerial bombardment.

Arming FSA was a good option for much longer than just the first year (and still is). Obama’s advisors (including Clinton at State and Panetta at DoD) advocated this, but were overruled. A large factor was his overwhelming desire to secure a deal with Iran, which even caused him to walk back from his “red line” when Assad used chemical weapons in 2013.

The pattern you describe is very similar to what happened in Europe around WWII. Places like Poland and Slovakia produced local uprisings (against the Nazis). The Allies basically sat idly by while those got crushed, enabling the Soviets to then move in and create the Eastern Bloc.

This is insane. I had no idea it was that bad. Do you have any sources where I could learn more?

Assad's torture dungeons - https://www.hrw.org/report/2015/12/16/if-dead-could-speak/ma...

Mass arbitrary execution - https://www.cnn.com/2017/02/07/middleeast/syria-executions-a...

Rape and sexual violence used for political means - https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/03/16...

Deliberate Syrian & Russian Air Force targeting of hospitals and systematic erasure of medical personnel - https://www.amnesty.org/en/press-releases/2016/03/syrian-and...

Chemical weapons used to gas civilian neighborhoods, including many children, even after the supposed removal of the chemical weapon stockpile (which earned Obama praise and earned the OPCW a Nobel Prize):

- https://foreignpolicy.com/2017/09/06/u-n-commission-calls-ou...

- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5bM8kTOsOk (warning: disturbing footage of gassed kids)

Assad inviting terrorists into the country to use them to confuse the world, slander protesters, and obfuscate the genocide - https://www.thedailybeast.com/assad-henchman-heres-how-we-bu...

"Over 500,000 Syrians have been killed and 13 million Syrians have been forced from their homes in the worst humanitarian crisis since the World War II" - Holocaust Museum (emphasis added, that really means something coming from the Holocaust Museum) - https://www.ushmm.org/information/press/press-releases/museu...

and Assad/Russia want people to believe that "the alternative is worse." The alternative is self-rule by the sweet, generous, loving people of Syria. Somehow, a social media campaign has convinced the world otherwise. Saying that there is a worse alternative, when half a million Syrians were killed (and counting), is to reduce Syrians to subhumans. That is especially insulting given that the alternative is often cited as "ISIS," even though Assad is the one who invited ISIS into the country, and the primary victims of ISIS were Syrians.

Pravda is in our Facebook news feed, and that of our friends whom influence our opinions.


Thank you for your kind sentiments! I do what I can. I think most decent people who aren’t blinded by ideology are sympathetic when they find out what is going on. Two Syrian documentaries made it to the Oscars this Sunday, although disappointingly a film with an Obama association was given the prize.

I think it’s important to distinguish between regular people on the one hand and politicians and bureaucrats on the other. I still have faith in a large section of humanity, which sees these atrocities and is outraged by them, but often feels powerless to stop them.


For those curious, here is a free link to For Sama, one of the Oscar-nominated documentaries mentioned: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/for-sama/

It is also available on the PBS Video app. It has a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes.


FB FOMO is a such an issue for myself. I remind myself that no one has a perfect life but nonetheless, I find myself driven to inspect profiles of people I admire, only to be horrified when I realize how much younger, but still more successful, they are than myself, or they do more interesting work, or are paid more, or live in a more appealing city, or take nicer vacations or inhabit more attractive bodies.

It's perfect recipe for feeling inadequate. I console myself by knowing someone is lurking my profile, thinking the same thing.


I am glad you shared your personal experience. Quite refreshing to read (even if it's a negative experience) in a thread that usually gathers a gazillion of people who "don't understand what's wrong, I use it only in an healthy way: for events and keeping in touch with friends/family a continent away".

FB has 2 barbs which are quite painful when deployed together: 1) The cheap and easy social validation of the "like" and 2) The observation of other people's status-seeking, which invalidates our own.

It's much like a drug- if you can use it responsibly, that's great. But we are just animals and all too often we gradually use FB more and more as a dopamine trigger. Often, this is in the form of edgy memes, angry politics, soft-core porn or just status-seeking. Add some FOMO to the mix and you will assuredly feel pretty crummy.

The FB like button is such an insanely powerful feedback mechanism. I never would have thought, 15 years ago, that such a simple thing could take over people's minds so completely. But it's becoming abundantly clear that not only is FB playing to our weakness, they are playing us against each other. In the scramble for likes, we obsessively refresh our pages. Likes cost FB nothing but the chase for them leads its users to churn in circles, all the while generating ad revenue and which finally resolves itself as Zuckerberg's 18th mansion.


I wonder, have fb quitters stopped using all social media? Have they also stopped visiting news websites?

My point is, is Facebook the only negativity inducing platform? I know for me it isn't. The question is how do you deal with the rest of them? Do you balance news intake against the impact on your mental health or you stop consuming news entirely, because in the end whatever it's set to happen will happen regardless?


One data point: I deleted my Facebook some time in late 2012 or early 2013. I have since deleted all my social media accounts / not join in on the rush to get new ones, with the exception of Mastodon (which I use very rarely) and HN. I don't go to news websites and just accept that I will find out about some things later than people who are more plugged in than me. When I need to know more about something in particular I will look that thing up, allowing myself to read about it on whatever source has a good piece on it, so I still consume some news but never passively.

I think even HN can be too reward-driven for me personally (I enjoy getting upvoted, etc). I've found that my relationship with all online information platforms was kind of destructive while I was doing it (things like autopilot opening Reddit in an elevator, not seeing anything and then opening another Reddit tab immediately). I've come to view information, especially on sites with an infinite feed, kind of like sugar: it's very good and can be okay in moderation, but if left to my own devices I would go overboard, so I have to specifically police myself.

I thought sticking to my "information diet" would be much harder than it is. I miss very little of what I used to consume: I reach out to the friends I want to keep up with, I look up the news I want to read, and I get to be relatively insulated from the constant torrent of negativity/targeted advertising/etc that happens on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, etc.


I can't speak for others...but Facebook was my social media gateway drug in 2006. Maybe unsurprisingly, it was also the catalyst which led to me quitting most social media platforms (Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others). Soon after, I made a commitment to only consume news on Saturday mornings. The combination of all of these things has helped immensely, and I honestly feel like I'm missing very little.

Personally I’ve changed to leveraging social media to pursue my work and some specific interests. No friends or family.

HN for stay current in my industry.

A very curated Twitter via a third party client for following specific tech creators.

No FB, IG or Reddit. No keeping up with the Jones’s or lusting after others lives.

If I want to talk to someone I make a habit of doing it regularly. I text friends and family at least once a week just to say hi. I attempt to maintain my relationships actively instead of the passive “likes” you can send through social media.


This seems backwards to me. FB is exclusively friends and family. Those are people I am close to. Why would that drive "keeping up with the Joneses"? Wouldn't following some celebrity or athlete or something drive jealousy more than following friends?

On Twitter, I've attempted to follow industry experts and "special interests" but it seems exclusively about people who I thought would provide insight into that special interest, saying mundane or inflammatory shit.

Maybe it's down to different personality types, but if I'm going to see random shit, I'd rather see it from people I know and love, than from someone I've never met lusting after engagement clicks.


> wouldnt following a celebrity drive more jealousy?

No. The whole premise for the keeping up with Joneses are that you know them well. They love in your neighborhood, they have similar jobs, etc. The phycological lie is that based on some things you should be able to keep up. Whereas with celebreties, you know that what they have in unachievable. They have so much you dont. The joneses are just like you, but with that one new thing. And then the next thing. Etc.


I do FB for hobbies... The groups can be pretty amazing, from tabletop RPG resources to ham radio hardware support to just watching a favorite musician like Haywyre uploading "musical sketches." There's a lot of good stuff.

I quit Facebook about 2.5 years ago but was still on Twitter and Instagram for awhile. About six months later I dropped Twitter, and then about a year ago I dropped Instagram. I found that having any of them just added to my anxiety, depression, and overall feeling of being dissatisfied with my life. I don’t currently miss any of them, and I find myself having a lot more time to read books and work on things I’m passionate about. I’ve also found that the people who actually care still keep in contact with me on at least a weekly basis, and it’s a lot more personal and rewarding because we communicate directly rather than through “the void” of social media.

I've also found other benefits of quitting such as spending less money because I'm not seeing as many ads for things I don't need, and not feeling influenced to visit/participate in some activity just because other people are doing it. Maybe it's my own lack of willpower, but I found myself doing and buying a lot of things that ultimately did nothing for me because of the constant flood of information from social media.

Obviously other experiences will vary and I don't judge anyone who feels like they need social media and gain something from it, but for me it added very little to my life and I feel a lot better without it.


Not me. Just FB. Removing just that is a big improvement. I'm still on IG. I don't look into Twitter much anymore, because it's not too different from FB.

Social media isn't news. Most of what we call news isn't. There's very little useful news out there. I read "The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption" by Clay Johnson which covered the topic quite well.


I deleted Facebook and Twitter at the same time in 2008 when I dropped out of University. It’s really been hell not owning social media, as it just cuts you off from everything. "just add/msg me on facebook", why can't I just text you? txting is free.

In the end, while it has made me more depressed not being part of it, it has made me a better person not being part of.

Reddit and HN are the only two online accounts I have. And even I am tempted to delete my Reddit account.


I still use LinkedIN, meetup (if that counts) and kept my rarely used Twitter account. Snapchat died on its own, that is, all of my friends quit posting on it - I assume they use Instagram now, but I won't touch it.

I try to keep all news on RSS feeds to avoid clickbait and ads pretending to be articles.


I haven't hard quit anything but vastly reduced all of these things. Yes, I have vastly reduced my visits to news websites, Twitter, etc. I have increased my consumption of monthly periodicals, books, and movies.

I only use HN and Reddit.

The only regret I have about deleting FB two years ago: not copying down friends' birthdays.

The solution? Ask them.


quit facebook about two years ago. i stopped using my real name on social media, use random names and gibberish for accounts.

i also stopped reading any news, it's all tainted bullshit anyway by whoever paid the most to have it written. i talk more with people around me to get the news.


I still use Twitter a lot.

the new is interesting however the article is just a quote from another article and a study. It ends up not pointing out any valuable information, like what are the underlying mechanisms. Basically a copycat to get free visitors traffic.

Questions I wish there were answered: is it about anxious browsing? anxious goshipping? compare oneself to others? compulsive procrastination? does it apply to other social networks, is it related to general screen time or just mindless consuming? would movies and stronger leisure activities have a similar effect or just compulsive social network browsing and the mental drain of feeling like comparing to others?

EDIT: spell and formating


> "stronger leisure activities"

I would be curious about this part, namely in sporting activities where the participants are considered "lower-performers". I would also like to see some connection to other psychological studies like Fixed/Growth Mindsets. Someone with a fixed mindset may show more life satisfaction quitting than a growth mindset person.


I'm fairly well convinced that I'm going to quit FB soon'ish. The main thing stopping me is that either A. the replacement "thing" I want doesn't exist yet, or B. it does, and I'm just not aware of it.

Given that I have some pretty specific ideas in mind regarding what I want to use instead of FB (think "self hosted blog" but with some very particular details) I don't know that the exact thing I want exists yet, and I don't really have time to create it myself. At least not unless it just natively "falls out" of work I'm doing anyway, which it may well do. I just don't know when that'll be.


Have you considered just using FB messenger @ messenger.com? You can log in with your email address instead of your Facebook account. You can also use it while your Facebook account is deactivated (I deactivated mine). No news feed, no ads, just conversations.

Not associated with Facebook, just a happy Messenger user.


Not really, because I have an ideological aversion to closed off / walled-garden protocols like that. Part of what my switch away from the whole FB/Twitter/Etc. thing is going to be going back to mainly using XMPP for chat. And anybody who can't, or won't, join an XMPP network and use an XMPP client is somebody I don't need to chat with.

I think I like IRC as much as the next guy (probably more). But I also like talking to friends who aren't in tech, like those from childhood, high school, or college, and who went into medical school or business or who simply write code during the day and don't make it their life, and the one network we have in common is the one managed by Facebook. For me at least, I'd rather stay connected to my friends using any means necessary than die on a hill over a chat protocol.

I don't ever want to be the guy who's not there for his friends, and I don't want to be the guy who regretted not staying in touch with his friends on his deathbed. I think that's a good reason to use Facebook, as good as any. Just offering my two cents!


I get, and appreciate, where you're coming from. But for me, I really care about promoting and encouraging use of Open Standards and that - to me - means eventually dropping my hypocritical usage of FB and the like. And I don't see any reason to think that people have to "be in tech" to use XMPP, IRC, etc. But to the extent that there is friction to using Open protocols, as opposed to closed ones, I see part of my personal mission to be helping to reduce that friction.

I don't ever want to be the guy who's not there for his friends

Same here, but I don't see that being tied into being on FB or not. My family, and real friends, all have my phone number and/or email address and can always call, text, or email. People that I only interact with via IM are typically not the people I am closest to.


I appreciate your stance :) Keep fighting the good fight, maybe one day I can and will join you :)

You might like PixelFed (https://pixelfed.social/) it's a completely open sourced project based on federation.

I'll check that out. Something based around Fediverse integration / open standards / open protocols is definitely a big part of what I want.

I use it for some non-personal stuff. I don’t have any followers (doesn’t matter to me). I’m eagerly waiting for the mobile app, since that’s the biggest barrier when suggesting it to people. Beyond network effects, better integration with the camera and the photos library is what many people seem to appreciate (and filters...but Pixelfed has those already).

This is exactly what I do.

I haven't deactivated my Facebook profile, but I have not visited it in six months or so. I can't be bothered, my news feed became too commercial. However I use messenger.com to talk to my real life friends and family. I also use Messenger Lite on my phone.


FB is the new cigarette.

But it's the 1940s & we're being told by big tobacco that maybe all of these symptoms aren't correlated.

Narrator: They were.

I'm trying to build something new from the ground up using a pull-based model + intimate groups of people you care about. Would love early beta testers that are parents of young ones: https://trypersona.com


Facebook is still the best way to get people to gather. I have recently started a fan club for a soccer group, and without Facebook it would have been impossible to organize. No other social media platform addresses that need, that I know of, that has a massive reach to get people with common interests. Organizing events and reaching people is made much easier.

Could be an example of the Hawthorne effect - observing any behavior increases performance in that behavior: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawthorne_effect.

Also, it's amazing the kind of site HN will upvote if it confirms their priors. This site is the most spammy looking thing, and it does not link to the original study like it claims (both links lead to a totally separate article).


Do.. you not know what Boing Boing is? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boing_Boing

Boing Boing definitely has an issue with looking, and frankly, acting like blogspam these days. Still some interesting original content, but the site design is pretty garish, and it's not always clear what is or isn't an advertisement.

I know its a three paragraph article with two broken links, on a page with 10 ads, and a spammy looking zoomed in photo of Mark Zuckerberg.

You take things at face value without pretense. Please have many offspring, it’s not a very common trait.

If facebook as it is today was presented to people today for the first time, they also may have come to the same conclusion.


(1) This article is pretty low-quality, and provides no sources for anything. It certainly sounds plausible enough, but still...

(2) Assuming that this is true for Facebook, I'm pretty sure the same result would hold true for any other social media site for short-form content (e.g. Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc).

(3) I'm LESS sure about sites for sharing longer-form writing, such as Reddit and HN. I suspect that the effect is not as stark, but that it does hold true to SOME extent whenever you have the gamification of upvotes and downvotes.


Rather than going cold turkey on Social Media, I’ve found it more effective to reduce the amount of content I’m exposed to e.g. for Facebook unfollowing all groups, turning off all notifications, reducing friends; for Instagram unfollowing almost all accounts And turning off all notifications etc.

This has the effect that when I DO inevitably visit these sites, I spend far less time there and it’s much less entertaining since I reach the “bottom” much quicker.

Over time I’ve been able to wean myself off.


Facebook has a bottom? I deactivated my account never having reached it. What’s it look like?

I'm considering quitting Facebook, and am currently using their feature that lets you temporarily deactivate your account. I'm trying it out for a few days to see how comfortable I am living without it. So far, no downsides. I'm going to keep using this feature until I am ready to pull the plug for good.

Quitting Facebook wasn't difficult. I had nothing of value from it by the end.

Quitting Instagram also wasn't difficult.

Sadly quitting WhatsApp is proving very difficult as it is used by so many (at least here in Europe).

I use Signal with most family members now but when I meet someone new and we exchange contact details it is always "you're on WhatsApp yes?" and never anything else.

To be fair WhatsApp does work well and as far as I know is still end-to-end encrypted so I do not think Facebook are mining my messages but I could be wrong.

It does bring me to the question of how WhatsApp is making money for Facebook or how they plan to monetise it without destroying it. A secure messaging platform is quite different to a trashy public social media platform like facebook.com.


WhatsApp shares some metadata about your conversations with Facebook, which is used by Facebook to show you ads or show your contacts on Facebook ads.

There was a plan to shove ads into WhatsApp statuses, but that was abandoned (or maybe suspended for the near future) recently.


I'm predisposed to believe this is true... But I can't find a link to any evidence or research in the OP, which is a fluffy piece with little actual content. I'm flagging the OP unless someone posts a link to either evidence or higher quality content.

The first link mistakenly pointed to the Bloomberg article when it was meant to point to this: https://web.stanford.edu/~gentzkow/research/facebook.pdf

Some takeaways:

Deactivation reduced (political) polarization:

"The Treatment group was less likely to say they follow news about politics or the President, and less able to correctly answer factual questions about recent news events. Our overall index of news knowledge fell by 0.19 standard deviations. There is no detectable effect on political engagement, as measured by voter turnout in the midterm election and the likelihood of clicking on email links to support political causes. Deactivation significantly reduced polarization of views on policy issues and a measure of exposure to polarizing news. Deactivation did not statistically significantly reduce affective polarization (i.e. negative feelings about the other political party) or polarization in factual beliefs about current events, although the coefficient estimates also point in that direction. Our overall index of political polarization fell by 0.16 standard deviations. As a point of comparison, prior work has found that a different index of political polarization rose by 0.38 standard deviations between 1996 and 2018 (Boxell 2018)."

Deactivation increased "well-being" by about 20-40% the amount you'd expect for someone getting therapy:

"Deactivation caused small but significant improvements in well-being, and in particular in self-reported happiness, life satisfaction, depression, and anxiety. Effects on subjective well-being as measured by responses to brief daily text messages are positive but not significant. Our overall index of subjective well-being improved by 0.09 standard deviations. As a point of comparison, this is about 25-40 percent of the effect of psychological interventions including self-help therapy, group training, and individual therapy, as reported in a meta-analysis by Bolier et al. (2013). These results are consistent with prior studies."


Thank you. That link should be the OP. Mods?

From the title I initially wasn't sure if this would be about people who quit using Facebook becoming happier, or people who quit working there. Anecdotally both are true among my peer group :)

Unfortunately I can't quit Facebook because it's the only way to know people from the other sex. I tried Tinder for a couple of months and it didn't work for me. My assumption is that people feel safer to interact with you if you have friends in common. That's said, I don't use Facebook that often, if I start talking with someone and we enjoy each other company, I kindly ask if we can use WhatsApp and if so, I will stop using Facebook for a period of time.

I quit Facebook (+ hipstagram + Snapchat) 2 years ago and deffo report better life satisfaction.

Well Snapchat was accidental quit. They made an app update and the app never launched again. I tried opening it several times and it crashed every time. Snapchat really needs to work on quality control and user experience.

I use WhatsApp to stay in touch with my family groups which are located all over the world. I really wished WhatsApp didn’t sell to Facebook and remained independent.


Yup.

I hopped back on Facebook in 2012, and it quickly became the nexus of my online life. I started to get wrapped into how I maintained my presence, the kinds of witty things that would make it as posts, the banners and profile pics, and I was always hoping to see a double digit number in the red notification bubble. It all peaked in early 2017 where I was wrapped up in some political ideological battle and I just said "fuck it" and left. Deleted it and didn't think about it.

There were a couple hours at first where I thought I was losing a connection to the world and my friends, but that cold feeling vanished a day later. I felt like I had gotten time back, I felt free.

For all of that, I still putt around on Twitter but that scratches a different itch and I never seem to be consumed by it.


I deleted my Facebook account and feel the same as the study: I wish I had done it years earlier.

As an aside, if anyone has any unusual things that you have done that have helped with depression, please mention them. I've done the usual route of therapy and meds but that didn't help with my depression or suicidal thoughts. Thanks in advance.

Not sure if you're open to controlled substances, psychedelics in particular, but LSD has been the singular thing that has really made an impact on my depression (and I've gone thru the usual round of therapy/medication/etc). Ten years ago I had a serious suicide attempt. I'm happier and healthier than ever now, and I credit a lot of what helped me to LSD. Happy to chat about this more if any body has any questions, but otherwise I find Michael Pollan's How to Change Your Mind an excellent introduction to psychedelic therapy (although his experience focuses predominantly on psychedelic mushrooms, there's a lot in common as they do have similar but different effects on the brain).

It's important to note that LSD or any psychedelic therapy isn't a cure-all. It's more like an accelerated, intense meditative/therapeutic state that allows you to reflect upon your life in a way that doesn't involve the ego-center of your brain. I highly recommend everyone to try it as it offers a way to introspect on yourself that is pretty difficult to achieve in normal life.


Continue to see a licensed professional but one thing I've learned is that people tend to be happier when there is something to look forward to. If everything pending in your life is a dread, it can be a downward spiral. The best approach is to find that thing for you. It could be volunteering or a hobby. It doesn't have to be the perfect thing but just pick one. Learn how to take photographs and how to use a camera with f-stops. Learn how to bake pastries. Join civic clubs or church clubs or hiking clubs. Join a gym and get in shape. If you don't like it, try something else. Search on meetup.com or other similar. Most of these things have an impassioned group of people who will talk about the group's focus for hours on end. It creates anecdotes and funny stories and events to look forward to. It creates a sense of accomplishment even if you only get better at thing X very very slowly. You make progress and improve.

"My own sense is that –certainly for males, and maybe for anybody, having a certain amount of fitness and strength makes you proud, and being proud is the most reliable source of happiness that I know." - Stewart Brand


You might want to check out 'The Book of Joy' by the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu (Nobel Peace Prize winner and archbishop). The book lays out what these two men believe are the fundamental pillars of enduring happiness. Instead of doing a poor job summarizing the contents, here's a link to Amazon if you're interested: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01CZCW34Q. Wish you the best.

Regular exercise, quitting a job I didn't like (biggest win, took me out of a depression), removed myself from an extremely negative friend (this happened for other reasons, but I noticed after it left me happier).

What I aspire to and think would leave me happier is taking a more deliberate approach to hanging out with friends than my current just going with the flow (and forgetting to hang out with people out of sight).


One thing that has helped me tremendously is The Daily Stoic: https://www.amazon.com/Daily-Stoic-Meditations-Wisdom-Persev...

There is a passage for each day of the year (less than 2 pages of reading) and a theme for each month.


Damn. Alcohol helped me some, but it's rather difficult to recommend that.

Simply accepting that it's going to be part of my life forever has helped some as well. I look for small pleasures, and it takes my life off of my thoughts for a while.


FB is mostly a tool for evil but it's got some amazing parenting resources. On the evil side you have the anti-vax nutters but you also have supportive parent groups for whatever weird disorder/issue/disease/problem your kid might have where the evidence-based stuff is winning out. Global scale organizing of these resources is a net benefit for sure.

I suppose 10 years ago they would have been on yahoo groups. 10 years before that, mailing lists. Now they're on FB and I guess that's alright if you don't mind FB knowing everything about your kids problems.

So yeah FB still evil warmongers against privacy but its power to organize moms does some little bit of good in this world.


Is that a net benefit, though? Couldn't those communities re-organize onto platforms that don't harm democracy and rationality? On the one hand, anti-vaxxers have caused a lot of damage, and FB aided in that; on the other hand, FB in general has taken revenue and power from those groups, and do we want FB to have more or less power?

I quit about a month or two ago. I'm not sure if I am happier or not, mostly because everyone around me is still on it (including my wife). So perhaps there is a bit of FOMO going on. I think I would be happier if everyone I knew quit.

Most people decide to quit because they feel Facebook is a threat to these. I know some people have left Facebook because of privacy concerns, but I feel that has a correlation with anxiety. I know anxiety encompasses more than just privacy as well. But if you feel your privacy is threatened, you will experience some degree of anxiety.

So these results should come as no surprise. If they didn't experience any of these benefits, why would they not join Facebook again? What other reasons do people who have left Facebook remain off of Facebook without these reasons?

This article feels tautological.


I deactivated my Facebook, don't use Messenger, barely use Instagram. Snapchat is just an archive for old photos/videos. Twitter is a few times a week. Reddit is a few times a day.

Notice more contentment, more focus, less anxiety, less noise. Technology is great for creativity, productivity, learning and entertainment. I prefer to hang out with people, be out in nature or explore a new city.


I am enjoying having my time and my headspace back from worries about anything transpiring therein, with a side helping of solace knowing that any data once ago provided is aging unto irrelevance.

Rather than going cold turkey, I’ve found it much more effective to find ways to reduce my engagement e.g by turning off notifications for all platforms, unfollowing friends, groups etc.

I’ve significantly reduced my Social media usage using this because I’m no longer tempted to scratch the itch of a notification, and when I do visit, there’s far less content so I’ll almost always reach the bottom’ now. I basically no longer use Facebook because I’ve made it barren for myself and significantly reduced time spent on Instagram.


Funny, I left Facebook yesterday. It got too much as I was connected with many of my customers/users and it was just mayhem. It was extremely complex for me to get off Facebook because our website "Login with Facebook", advertising, pages, etc all are connected to my account, so I couldn’t simply destroy the account itself or risk locking out hundreds of thousands of people from our platform and apps. I manually unfriended 2000 people (which surprisingly didn't take too long).

I'd really like to quit Facebook but I'm holding out for three reasons:

a) Facebook Chat is a way to get a hold of friends or vice versa. SMS is often slow (less of a sense of urgency I guess), and not everyone has my number or even use SMS.

b) The network effect. It's a great way for introverts such as myself to get in contact with someone without the "what's your number?" question.

c) Events. If I didn't have Facebook I would probably not know about them.

How do introverts who quit Facebook get over these obstacles?


I quit. I'm an introvert :)

a) You can quit Facebook without quitting Messenger. I did this for a while before pulling the plug immediately.

b) Honestly, quitting Facebook made it pretty clear to me what social circle I (and those within it) seriously wanted to maintain, and who didn't exist in that. This is not to shade on the people outside of this circle, by the way! We only have a limited number of seats at our proverbial table. My closest friends quickly switched to SMS for me. I have more time for them now that my Messenger list isn't filled with people for whom I only have a vague relationship with (this is also more of an indicator of the type of friends I had on Facebook, which may not apply to you).

c) Depends on what kind of events you like, but I've found text/mailing lists/curated apps to be more helpful than Facebook's deluge of events. I do get invited to less birthday parties, but I've never enjoyed those anyways. I much prefer an intimate dinner over a large group gathering.


If you get value out of Facebook for those reasons, why do you want to quit?

The overwhelming theme of social media is propagating envy. Look at this amazing vacation, look at how handsome I am, look at this happy family with baby and wedding photos, look at all my money, look at me landing a great job, look we just bought a beautiful new house.

How can one be content with your own life if you're constantly comparing yourself to everyone else. Removing images and video might go a long way.


Also, adding some degree of anonymity. It’s much easier to delight in a story/post where there’s less orientation of the story to an attention-hungry identity and less social pressure on friends to ‘like’ and so forth. Not that anonymous social forums are without problems.

I think equating fb to other social media misses the point. It's specifically the privacy violations, whether indirect (people reporting they can no longer make their profiles unsearchable, or posts they thought were private suddenly surfacing) or direct (like "your friend just commented on this post"). None of this can be turned off. Do they not ever think? Use their heads?

It seems that throughout history, we've discovered things that were exciting and hyped only to later realize that the addictiveness was damaging for society, leading us to regulating it (or attempting to do so).

I wonder if what we're going through right now with social media will look irresponsible and quaint the way smoking does in Mad Men at some point in the future.


True for me, 1 year+ of no fb or insta. Feel so much better than before and I didn’t even realize I had anxiety until it disappeared

According to my phone I spend about 5-10 minutes a week on all social media combined (with YouTube being the big outlier, but I watch mostly on the TV now).

FB, IG, Twitter, Snapchat… I check them once a week, if that. I think I only keep FB around for some SSO stuff and a few API integrations that I use for work.

About two years ago I went all out and just turned off notifications for _everything_. Not just social media, but news, email, and even text messaging. I have a favorites list that has a few contacts on it that I let through and for emergencies and stuff like that, but in general my phone doesn't do _anything_ unless I receive a call from someone on my contact list. And I guess calendar reminders and bank notifications.

It's awesome.

I get a print version of The Economist once a week. I catch up on the news via podcasts on the weekend or when I feel like it. I probably spend a few hours a week between HN, reddit and The Verge but that's about it. Everything is on my terms and I'm never going back.

You don't realize how terrible everything is for you until you get rid of it all and then you start to wonder why you even bothered with that shit in the first place. IMO notifications just need to go away completely. Unless it's an emergency of some kind there really is no reason why you need notifications in your life.


I think your experience with FB has a lot to do with whom you have on your "friends list".

I only have about 200, most of whom don't post much. Of those who post a lot of political stuff I have a fairly good mix so I see a lot of that but I don't get all heated up over it.

A lot of great and funny stuff comes up on my feed so I have a lot of fun with it.


I mean there is no point quitting Facebook to spend all your time on Twitter or Instagram either... They are objectively as bad, especially Twitter which is 24/7 of nonsense and petty drama and people yelling at each other or organizing virtual lynch mobs...

Facebook as a way to keep in touch with close friends, as a private family network is fine.


I confirm. Facebook stopped properly working for me today: I use it mostly on a smartphone via a mobile Firefox, and it stopped showing more than 4 lines of text in every post, drawing a non-working 'more' link at the end of line four. So, I decided not to report the issue because I feel myself much happier without Facebook.

I quit facebook and it improved my relations with my friends and my outlook on life. I also am in less of a bubble.

Even if Facebook/Twitter didn't make me less happy or turn me into a person I didn't want to be, I would have quit them for the sheer opportunity cost of time spent on them that my long-term self would rather be spending on other things. (Obviously could apply to HN as well haha.)

Facebook kinda tops out as you get older and the rate of adding new friends declines. Turns out most people are doing variations of the same thing and it gets dull fast (admittedly maybe I need more interesting friends).

Twitter is novelty and Instagram is aesthetics. Facebook is reruns of the same ol' show.


I think the first link mistakenly pointed to the Bloomberg article when it was meant to point to this: https://web.stanford.edu/~gentzkow/research/facebook.pdf

Some of the interesting points from the paper:

1. Deactivation reduced (political) polarization:

"The Treatment group was less likely to say they follow news about politics or the President, and less able to correctly answer factual questions about recent news events. Our overall index of news knowledge fell by 0.19 standard deviations. There is no detectable effect on political engagement, as measured by voter turnout in the midterm election and the likelihood of clicking on email links to support political causes. Deactivation significantly reduced polarization of views on policy issues and a measure of exposure to polarizing news. Deactivation did not statistically significantly reduce affective polarization (i.e. negative feelings about the other political party) or polarization in factual beliefs about current events, although the coefficient estimates also point in that direction. Our overall index of political polarization fell by 0.16 standard deviations. As a point of comparison, prior work has found that a different index of political polarization rose by 0.38 standard deviations between 1996 and 2018 (Boxell 2018)."

2. Deactivation increased "well-being", by about 20-40% the amount you'd expect for someone getting therapy:

"Deactivation caused small but significant improvements in well-being, and in particular in self-reported happiness, life satisfaction, depression, and anxiety. Effects on subjective well-being as measured by responses to brief daily text messages are positive but not significant. Our overall index of subjective well-being improved by 0.09 standard deviations. As a point of comparison, this is about 25-40 percent of the effect of psychological interventions including self-help therapy, group training, and individual therapy, as reported in a meta-analysis by Bolier et al. (2013). These results are consistent with prior studies."

3. After the experiment ended, people in the treatment group didn't feel like they needed to go back:

"As the experiment ended, participants reported planning to use Facebook much less in the future."

"About 80 percent of the Treatment group agreed that the deactivation was good for them."


My problem is these are my escapes. If I don’t use them then I do not know what else to do with my time.

A very good point. And we can't really say for sure if _you_ would have a better experience, should you decide to give it up.

I like the idea of providing people with more contextual and appropriate psychological support than just "hey look, some evidence that it can be a good idea to quit."


In my humble opinion, there are 2 types of people who use facebook:

1. The show offs who want to share every little detail about their every little thing in life.

2. People who want to keep tabs on their family/friends occasionally.

I started as #1 back in 2004 when fb was still early on and slowly graduated to #2.


You forgot 1 other nasty group: those who feel better by judging others. You won't see them post or comment, but they will judge everyone behind their back.

I've see several cases like this from up close, including one extravagant girl (who wasn't doing anything wrong, just posting a lot), that basically cut out her entire family so she could post without all the gossiping.


I almost quit FB (almost only business) and I'm spending more time on HN :-)

Basically I know less about my friends living far from me but they are second/third tier friends anyway: the time spent together in real life is what matters.


I am clocking about 10 years w/out FB. Not on whatsapp and all that other stuff. I'm quite happy & when folks ask me how to get in touch, My standard reply is SMS/Phone or Face2face :)

I deleted my FB account like 2 years ago? Never looked back. Unfortunately, I still see way too many people around me still using it. Have little faith on masses quitting the service.

Knew a bunch of people who simply didn't hear about events anymore, after they left FB.

If you don't inform yourself via other channels, this can get grimm pretty quick.


There are just a couple places using it to schedule stuff these day. I'm not sure how to get away from that.

I can't believe none of my 200 friends post anything anymore.


The most toxic platform out there is Twitter. Every time I log in I see series of hate tweets we all have for each other, policies,race, celebrities.

Someone needs to come up with a single-player social media website that helps people be alone. At the very least it would be a hilarious social commentary.

1. Unfollow everyone

2. follow pages and groups that interest you

3. LAUGH at the comments of idiots that get their kicks out of life by vomiting non-nense.

The future of Facebook looks a lot like the old AOL.


I deleted my Facebook account about 2 years ago (created a new Messenger-only account for a handful of ongoing chats). I have never regretted this step.

For those that believe access to Facebook is a human right, does the idea that Facebook might be physiologically unhealthy factor into that reasoning?

Can verify.

Human are weird animals. We get anxiety looking at others doing good. Maybe we are just really really mean.

Though most of the doing good is just on the surface


Quitters of just about _any_ harmful habit will report all that. This doesn't mean that FB is harmful to everyone or even to a substantial fraction of its users. It's just that people who feel it is harmful for them are much more likely to "quit" it, and report improvement when they do. I bet people who just started to use FB also report more life satisfaction and less depression and anxiety. They made a change they felt they needed to make, in both cases.

Does anyone have a link to the study PDF? (Boing Boing’s PDF link erroneously points to the Bloomberg article.)

This is only true if you quit all social media. I started using Twitter for 1 specific topic and now it’s all back.

The reverse happened to me. I got more depression and anxiety. So, I joined Facebook again after 3 months.

As a Facebook quitter, I can confirm.

I often forget I even had a facebook. There really is just zero value add to my life from that website.

I used to subscribe to the idea that facebook helped you stay close to friends and family. But the issue is most of the friends and family who I want to hear from and wants to hear from me have too much going on to really be active. So the remainder of facebook is peripheral contacts who think that by posting someone's else content (a meme, a political thought, a call to action, whatever) it's somehow valuable to everyone else. I hear marketplace is useful and is supplanting craigslist. But when I look at it, it's full of off-site ads for products I have no interest in buying. Very little of it is actual neighbor to neighbor legitimate items for sale. I deleted the app from my phone over a year ago and haven't really missed it. More importantly, I really fail to see the value that facebook provides.. can you imagine if they'd really pitched to VC's what they've become they'd ever been funded in the first place? "Hi, we are going to attract users who used to forward email spam to all their contacts in the CC line and give them a place online to collect all their BS on one convenient place and then we're going to market all sorts of crap at them."

I’ve recently withdrawn from email, Internet and TV for a while. I’m currently reconnecting.

My main observation is that I’m happy getting back onto the things where I exert some control. Those with little control are harder to stomach:

1. TV news is one of the hardest. I can silence the adverts but the news itself is a horror. In most “items” I see blatant political manipulation, viciousness without apparent reason, ignorance and stupidity so deep that I’m dumbfounded. So much propaganda and disinformation. Can’t find any channel that is much good, not controllable. (Also newspapers, for them add plenty of hysteria.)

2. eMail has also proved surprisingly hard. The hard part is all the spam. (I don’t use surveillance capitalist mail servers, run my own.) I decided to go through my spam traps first. So much utter rubbish that it’s put me off. Outnumbers the good stuff even after automated pre-winnowing. Would be better if I could find a way to retaliate effectively against those who pay for spam.

3. Facebook is quite easy. I have a number of measures in place that put my content under my own control. Not that hard to get back into. (Though I find more people, a lot, are using it less and bailing out altogether as time goes on. It’s dying.)

4. Twitter is dead easy. You choose who you follow. That gives you a lot of control, so can be pleasant to use.

5. The Internet (WWW) in general is not too bad. I have a variety of tools to control and exclude those who want to watch everything I do. Gives me control.

My take away: The media you can control can be rewarding and worthwhile.


Sounds like confirmation bias to me.

Left Facebook 4 maybe 5 years ago now can’t remember. No instagram no snap no WhatsApp.

It’s shocking to see people call Reuters, NPR and NYTimes unbiased. They are biased.

What happens in your real life is still 10-100x more influential in how you feel.

i'm waiting for my facebook account to be deleted in a week and the only anxiety i have now...is waiting for it to be gone. it's toxic. i'm much more at peace letting facebook go.

Whatsapp growth is off the charts - that's the vertical to attack IMO.

Twitter is far more addictive for me, and makes me feel worse.

I like looking at my friends pictures on Facebook. But I never understood why I would post any pictures myself. I don’t understand the upside. Even my profile photo is blank.

I sincerely hope people at FB come to the realization that they can do something powerful to dramatically change the world IF they are willing to forgo the money.

Now i am addicted to hacker news instead.

When Facebook pays me for my supplied content I would think about going back. But I am not interested in making someone else rich using my data.

Can relate, I haven’t missed it a bit.

Ditto. From my experience and assumptions by many media I've seen, people tend to post the best of what is going on in their lives to social media. Subsequently, not seeing the bad or mundane in comparison to oneself, causes anxiety. There are many other aspects to the social media that might affect life satisfaction. Time spent on the platform rather than being productive is one that comes to mind.

Unfortunately, I can't say the same. I quit FB a month ago, and sadly not a single "friend" has emailed me or phone called me since then asking "yo, what's up dude?"

If you are upset with the way they treat you, then perhaps you should reconsider your relationship. Have you contacted them? I personally go years without speaking to some of my friends and pick up right where we left off. It feels like there has been no time gap. I do not put much stock in friendship. It would not be upsetting to me if none of my friends contacted me ever again. You may not be the same.

People who follow through with major decision report higher satisfaction, says new groundbreaking study.

"Facebook is designed to make you anxious, depressed and dissatisfied"

Really? Designed? Come on.


Well, it's designed to capture eyeballs; and those are definitely mechanisms to capture eyeballs.

If I understood it correctly that's what our parent was implying.

A dike is designed to keep water away and, as a side effect, blocks the ocean view. It would be misleading to say that a dike is designed to block the view, as it misrepresents the builders intention to fit a specific narrative.

If we'd explain dikes that way to someone who does not know the concept, they would assume that dike builders have to be very evil.

Which is pretty unfair, given that if we had better ways of building dikes that - everything else equal - don't block the view, everyone would probably build those instead.

I think that such a deliberate misrepresentation reveals the authors agenda and their willingness to be intellectually dishonest.


Facebook and Instagram

I second that.

It all started with being sick of being presented with walls of negative stuff (usually political, all sides) every time I went into FB. Not wanting to see that crap I started to put people on 30 day holds. I eventually decided that if I had to put someone on 30 day hold three times in a row I should unfriend them. And that is exactly what happened with a number of people.

After several of those cycles I asked myself a very simple question: Why?

That's when I unfriended everyone except close family (a little over a dozen people). I can now derive some value from FB.

I have a long list of things FB should do to actually be more useful. One of the things that always bothered me was that they force you to toss everyone into one big pile and everyone on that pile is exposed to everything you say and do. Yes, sure, you can group friends and explicitly post to a limited subset. Frankly, the implementation absolutely sucks and is a pain in the ass to use.

The model needs to change to everything being absolutely private and not farmed or captured by FB unless the user chooses to open doors beyond that.

There is no reason for my friends from the gym should have any visibility into my family and my conversations with my family. The same applies to work friends or neighborhood friends. You can accomplish this today but the UX/UI are absolute garbage. A user needs to be able to put people into silos and the software needs to enforce privacy between silos by default. It should take work to pierce silo boundaries. Again, no reason for someone's bowling club members to ever see conversations with family.

I had a case with a friend of a friend who would snap tons of pictures whenever he got invited to a gathering at my house. He would proceed to post all of these pictures publicly on FB --as in anyone in the world could see them. I am not paranoid, but I don't want pictures of my kids, home and family all over the internet for everyone to see. If you are not a parent (and, in particular, if you don't have daughters, you might not get this). I asked this guy twice, politely, not to do that. I explained that taking pictures of people in a private residence does not entitle him to post them for the world to see without permission. I eventually had to pay an attorney to give him a call and get it sorted.

Another interesting issue with FB happens when your friends post stuff from publications you do not care to see on your timeline. They offer the ability to block some people and pages, but there are a few holes in that. I don't remember the details. All I know is that I kept being exposed to garbage from a couple of people and the only way to not see it was to suspend them for 30 days or unfriends them. I eventually just unfriended them. I reached out to FB with the issue. They could not care less.

On the business side, they angered a lot of people with their approach to your audience in groups or pages. I have personally invested tens of thousands of dollars in the past aggregating people behind pages only to be slapped in the face by having to buy advertising to reach my entire audience. Imagine having a page with 100K people you spent money to aggregate and only being able to reach a few percent of them with your updates (unless you pay).

I remember when brands used to advertise their FB pages in TV ads. I never understood why they subverted their amazing brands to FB. Well, eventually they all stopped. You don't see that kind of thing any more. Businesses want to own their audience not have to rent it every time they need to reach to them.

For all the good FB does or can do it also has some dark patterns that they should address.


It was the best thing I ever did.

I, too, find my life is much less stressful when I bury my head in the sand and pay no attention to the corruption of government and progress of society towards capitalist fascism.

Limit your social media feed to only people posting positive news. Cut off the people you don’t actually interact with. Remove all the bad news from your daily attention. Now you are in a better state of being: the state of denial.

Goodbye depression and anxiety!


Not all bad news is actually true, useful, or even news.

In general, I think of these sorts of things in terms of "circle of concern" and "sphere of influence". I would like the to have the latter larger than the former.

Very few people, realistically, can exert much influence on corrupt government and progress of society towards capitalist fascism.

For those that can and do, I applaud them and wish we had more of them. Realistically, I know I won't quit my job and become Ralph Nader. Perhaps a tragedy of the commons, but it does seem to make most sense for most individuals to just cut out their concern, since they won't do anything anyway.


You’re delusional or a sociopath if you think working for Facebook is doing anything positive for society. Facebook has to be the single worst thing to happen to humanity so far in the 21st century.

What is this?

About it plz

ITT lots of people justifying using Facebook.



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