I get emails almost every day with subject lines touting the “newest!” and “surprising!” Facebook studies just released from think tanks and organizations around the world.
As Facebook continues to manifest itself in everyday society and as its success continues to skyrocket, so do the number of organizations that put time, effort and resources into studying how this social phenomenon is affecting our relationships, health and sanity. But taking a look at the past year’s most popular studies and reports, how surprising really are the results?
Take, for example, these recent articles:
One study, published this week, says that Danish children are spending half as much time with other children as they did 23 years ago. Instead, the report says, they’re spending more time in front of the computer and interacting with others digitally. As a result, today’s children are growing up socially inept.
But apparently there’s no cause for worry because another report found that Facebook can be great for shy kids, as it helps to build social skills and can be less-daunting than socializing in person. Uh huh.
And then there’s another widely publicized study that discovered something called “Facebook depression” in which Johnny gets depressed when he realizes that Sally has more friends than he does, and Sally’s friends like more of her status updates than Johnny’s friends like his.
But fear not, because if you’re a woman, you’re probably using Facebook as a tool to boost the self-esteem that you gained as a shy kid, then lost again in your teen years. (Phew!)
[Want more tips, tricks and details on Facebook privacy? Check out CIO.com’s Facebook Bible.]
So, in sum, Facebook is the root cause for socially inept kids, yet can also help them develop social skills. It causes depression in teens, yet seems to boost womens’ self-esteem. And don’t forget this one: Facebook is driving up the divorce rate, yet makes you want to cuddle. The list of contradictions could go on and on.
So with all these studies out there, is there any value to the discoveries?
Perhaps the only thing they prove is that Facebook is a microcosm of society, largely mimicking and now broadcasting events and sentiments that were once private and never before the subject of analysis.
Spend too much time alone and you’ll lose the value and intricacies of real-world relationships. Compare yourself to others and you’ll lose your sense of self-worth. Share every fabulous detail of your fabulous life and others will likely view you as a narcissist.
So perhaps instead of scrutinizing Facebook trends or deeming Facebook as the catalyst for a downturn in sanity, self-esteem and marriage, take a minute to consider that maybe not much has changed. Facebook has just made our lives more visible—and more interesting—to others.
Kristin Burnham covers Consumer Technology, SaaS, Social Networking and Web 2.0 for CIO.com. Follow Kristin on Twitter @kmburnham. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Kristin at firstname.lastname@example.org