Author Says Facebook Is Making Us Miserable

By Ian Bush

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Facebook has changed the way many people communicate with family and friends — but some believe it’s not always for the better.

The social networking site’s recent changes — spotlighting what you’re hearing, watching, and reading — are geared to make users share more.

“Facebook is making us unhappy by making everyone else look really, really happy.”

Author Daniel Gulati blogs for Harvard Business Review. He says all that shared information is creating a subconscious “ranking” among friends as our curated selves broadcast online are compared in real life.

“Facebook is bringing down a lot of people’s daily sense of well-being.”

He says Facebook leads to a loss of productivity in work and play and can negatively affect close relationships.

“Meeting up in person, you get a much richer connection versus a video chat or a text-based chat.  It’s cannibalizing the offline interaction. That’s what’s worrying to me — the future prospect of Facebook conversations and video calls as opposed to meeting up at the local coffee shop.”

Gulati doesn’t advocate quitting the site, but suggests setting aside a daily time to visit with one day off Facebook each week. He also recommends deleting Facebook apps for mobile devices and pruning your list of friends — all, he says, to give you more time to “strengthen real-world relationships.”

More at

Gulati is a coauthor of the ‘Passion & Purpose: Stories from the Best and Brightest Young Business Leaders.’  He tweets @danielgulati.

More from Ian Bush
  • Steve Case

    That’s why I use AMERICA ONLINE. It rocks.

  • FritzIdler

    The article is talking about, how a comparative standard makes one unhappy. Which is true. But I believe comparative standards, have been making people unhappy, long before the phrase ‘comparative standard’ was coined. You can find a description of it in the Old Testament.

  • FBhater

    I was a very early and active user of FB but shut down my account a couple of years ago, and most people I know and respect have done likewise. Or, in the alternative, use FB in a very minimal way – usually just to promote a band (like myspace) or their business (like linkedin). People are beginning to realize Facebook is nothing but a scam, enriching its founders and employees and investment bank (goldman sachs) at the expense of the privacy and sanity of everyone else.

    • Yeziam12

      I think maybe you can remove the “FB” from you name. You say “…most people I know and respect have done likewise…”

      Last time I checked, my friends don’t judge how much they respect me based on whether they think I use FB or not. Judgmental much.

      • X_X


  • WoWeesMe

    If you’re miserable then it’s probably not all Facebook’s fault. Maybe you should go outside and be nice to a real human being… Just a thought. I’d wager that all these comments aren’t helping miserable people feel any better also.

  • R_S

    There is no such thing as a “FB” friend.

    • Yeziam12

      Could you elaborate or am I supposed to stroke my chin and agree with what you perceive is an eloquent comment?!

      Of course I have FB friends – more likely, none of the people I communicate are not friends. So, I guess your quip doesn’t mean much to those of us who use FB to stay in touch, as it does to someone who uses it otherwise?!

      • David

        If you felt secure, Yeziam, why did you reply…

  • Max Hathaway

    FACEBOOK is a sand-trap for the mindless, an orchestrated mass distraction to channel attention away from the breakdown of our society; and a tool creates by elites to maximize conformity, channel media exploitation and media ownership over individual citizens.

    The truth: FACEBOOK OWNS your SORRY @SS.

    When your realize the implication of that, your life is over.

  • Facebook vs Happiness? « thebarbiesyndrome

    […] So, this author has come out saying that he believes Facebook is ‘Making us Miserable’. […]

  • David M

    All I want to know is which members of Congress are being bribed right now with pre-ipo FB stock. Technically it is legal, but the way I see it, it is a huge conflict of interest and should be equated with bribery. It is a travesty that laws to make it illegal have been tabled several times.

    • Spanky

      Do you mean like what happened with Nancy “VISA IPO” Pelosi?

  • tom

    Never had it….never will.

    • Spanky

      Just wait until your grandchildren’s photos are posted there and the other set of grandparents “likes” and posts comments about them all the time!

  • nerd

    I have to put this in my hosts file:

    • Spanky

      Ha! I gotcha! I went to your IP address and in a few seconds I”m going to force your computer to format its hard drive! Take that!

      • Spanky

        uh oh…

  • Voy Euring

    Facebook = Unreal; falsified reality

    It’s exactly what users want people to THINK their lives are really like…

    • Spanky

      oh and all that other stuff we do is reality?

      • Chimmy McPee

        Um, yeah.

  • justme

    I had FB for about 10 minutes… I found out things about family and friends that I didn’t want to know. It was invasive and intrusive.

    • alastair

      amazing how people willingly hand over one of their most important and valuable possessions (information about their private, personal actions and choices) for free, to a startup in California. its just bizarre. hopefully we’ll look back one day and wonder what the hell we were thinking.

  • Irony

    What I love is, at the bottom of this article is a facebook connect button…

    • commentarion

      That’s got to be the most insidious and infuriating thing about most publications comments systems now, the “login via facebook” button. Just when you thought it wasn’t possible to detest facebook any more.

  • David

    Much of what has been pointed out in this article can be said about the internet in general as well as i-phones and texting.

    • jimmerz

      @David “The POINT of the article is about the loss of personal relationships, human contact and face to face communication which is not only true, but a terrible loss for humanity” If it were not for Facebook, there are friends and family, that I would otherwise have little or no chance of connecting with. Those friend who I live near, I can and do see in person. It is those that live in other states, thatI I use Facebook to keep in contact with.

      • Lar

        Ever hear of a telephone?

    • Ken

      no I disagree with that…facebook keeps you clicking, all in one place so you don’t have to use your head to find new sources of information as you would with the “general” internet.

      • Ken

        ok sorry, I should have said “input”. My point is that it reinforces addictive behavior more than say a google prompt

      • David

        The POINT of the article is about the loss of personal relationships, human contact and face to face communication which is not only true, but a terrible loss for humanity. It has NOTHING to do with ” sources of information ” on the internet for news or research purposes. Apparently it’s having a negative affect on reading comprehension and understanding skills as well.

  • Fred

    “Author Says Facebook Is Making Us Miserable”

    Author is looking to get attention. Ironic, in the context of this article, don’t you think?

    • Bruce

      So Fred, how exactly would he, by your standards, make his point that FB is making people unhappy and cut off from real human interaction without appearing to you to be using a “hot topic” and “the oldest trick in the book”? Does this mean that anyone who criticizes FB is only trying to get attention, so their point can be dismissed out of hand?
      I’m not trying to flame you, I’m just trying to take your point to its logical conclusion to see if I understand you correctly.

      • Fred

        Bruce, his point might have some basis for consideration if he actually provided data or evidence to back up his claims about fb and what it does to people. He has not, as far as I can tell. Without that, his views are just his opinion. That’s fine and he’s entitled to it, but I don’t have to take it any more seriously than anyone else’s opinion on the subject.

    • Ken

      I’m glad he is pointing it out. I’m also glad to see that I’m not the only one who thinks this. Thanks for your point of view, though I do not understand it..

      • Fred

        My point is that the author is using the subject of facebook to garner attention for himself, because fb is a ‘hot’ topic these days.

        If you notice, he doesn’t provide any research, statistics or evidence to back up his views of facebook and what it’s ‘doing’ to us, so it’s all just his personal opinion. In my personal opinion, facebook is ok. Just like anything else, if you overdo it it’s bad, but rejecting it totally out of hand is also a little extreme.

        I have friends from childhood, high school and college spread all over the world that I’m in touch with now. It would be very difficult to stay in touch with all of them by email. Fb makes it easy. Sure, the interaction is generally shallow, but that’s how I want it. If you really want to get closer you always can via the chat or messaging funciton. I’ve actually met up with a few old friends in person because of reconnecting with them on fb.

        Like I said, the author just wants to get attention so he writes something negative about fb knowing people will zero in on it. Oldest trick in the book. Media and newspapers do it everyday. Fear sells.

  • fred dean

    He is correct. 100 percent. Great article.

  • Mark

    This is a great example of modern America & what is wrong with it. Here is an extremely successful business so it must be trashed & torn down by “intellectuals” from those Ivy League egghead schools telling us it makes us unhappy. BS!

    My 1 year old niece lives 3,000 miles away and thanks to Facebook I see pictures and videos of her on an almost daily basis. I have no problem if people don’t want to join, after all nobody is putting a gun to anyone’s head and forcing them to log on to Facebook.

    Besides, since only 1% of Americans are well off according to the same intellectual idiots it’s not like the 99% can afford a computer or cell phone or tablet to use Facebook anyway right? It’s only for “Rich People” :) Or maybe Facebook is the next “right” the useful idiots will demand.

    • Spanky

      “Or maybe Facebook is the next “right” the useful idiots will demand.”

      Actually they have already been demanding free internet access.

    • Mike`

      Hey Mark, your use with your daughter is a perfect example of the great advantages of Facebook but I think the author is speaking more about how people who live in the same city or neighborhood are using FB in lieu of face to face interaction. I think FB is used by insecure and narcissistic people to make their boring lives seem better and I personally choose to ignore those and use it for business marketing or communicating over distances like you.

    • Steven

      Facebook Mark is stupid to put it bluntly. Instead of facebook why dont you communicate with skype? I’m actually against what it stands for which is a look at me narcissism that I find dumbs down the general population. At 1 years old how many of your niece’s videos do you need to see everyday? Really, think about it. Btw if I’m not mistaken it was a Ivy League egghead who created it in the first place.

    • Brutus

      Ever think to call her instead?
      You can attach photos and video to any email, that’s been easy for years now.
      You niece prefers this because you’re an old dude and she doesn’t really want to spend time with you face/face or on the phone. This is why people love Facebook. They can feel “connected” w/o ever really connecting. Keeping it shallow and surfacy is safe.

      Can anyone name someone they “re-connected with” who was otherwise unfindable had anyone really bothered? I can find kids I went to grammar school with in about 5 minutes online if I know their name and age. The reason people don’t stay in touch is they really don’t want to all that much.

      But once Facebook comes around so they can show off how great their life is, tada! Suddenly everyone wants to get back in touch. Ever wonder why? They get the good part of having friends (sharing your good stuff) w/o the hassle of reality (boring conversations).

      “hey bob, nice to hear from you. Here’s my trophy wife and 7 series parked beside my new boat”.

      “Nice to hear from you Bob. I just got promoted. Here is a photo of me with the President”.

      In reality they both are annoyed by each other. That’s why they haven’t been in touch.

      • Me

        Yes, I’ve had an experience where I “reconnected” with someone “unfindable”.

        I became close friends with a foreign exchange student in fifth grade. She moved back to Mexico and hadn’t known what address or anything I would be able to reach her at. I’d wanted to contact her again over the years, but with no clue of where to look, and with her having extremely common Hispanic first and last name, I would say she was “unfindable” – and it’s not for lack of trying. When she joined Facebook a few weeks ago, she looked up my name and friend requested me, and immediately we started talking and caught up on the missing years. She’s married and has a baby girl now!

      • Julie Stewart

        Very insightful comments. Now I understand some of the reasons I left FB a year ago, although at the time I did not understand what was motivating me to do so. You make some good points here.

    • Bob Binger

      But without facebook you couldnt see pictures and videos of her? We still have email in which is safer to use, and anything you email is still your own property that you reserve the rights to .Problem is schools are now telling us students that we need to sign up for facebook to turn in assignments, I refuse to do so and took my F for the assignment. If you wanna facebook/myspace/twitter its your right do to so. But please read the fine print and realize that they now own anything you let them. Also realize the sucide rates in children and young adults has doubled since facebook. Its more of a problem than most think.

    • Ken

      The guy isn’t saying that there aren’t benefits to facebook.

      I think Diaspora is a better implementation anyway (free from advertising or the profit motive), but beside that, people who aren’t already communicating by phone or in person with their friends *will* be negatively affected by facebook.

    • David

      You sound awfully defensive here, as if the author was speaking to you personally. The authors analysis of FB, how most people use it and how it ultimately affects them is spot on. You might find this difficult to accept, but not everything is about you.

  • Mitt

    Damn Trolls – they are everywhere.

    You Trolls get off my lawn!

  • Frank Zentura

    Dummies. Don’t those “unhappy” people know that everyone posts on FaceBook precisely to make their lives look better than they are? Hell… Facebook reinforces this behavior by sheltering peoples comments and siloing people so they only see what makes the user feel comfortable.

  • Capt Obvious

    I had a FB account at one time. Since I’ve deleted it, I feel much better.
    My nephew once asked me if he should get one. I immediately responded “It makes you be friends with people you don’t really want to be.”

    Plus, now employers are using it against you. The better idea is to PREVENT information on you proliferating online.

    Think about it.

  • graphx

    Real men don’t use facebook or “lol”.

    • David


      Psychologically, social networking/facebook is a FEMALE oriented pursuit.

      • Manfred

        I know a couple of metrosexual dudes whose lives have been consumed by the puerile inanity that is facebook. How weak, insecure, and shallow do you have to be? Do you really think the world gives a rat’s ass? Do you? I for one was GLAD to graduate from junior high school….

  • Red

    I agree with the author, FACEBOOK SUCKS!


    iSN’T IT MOSTLY FOR TATTOOED SHEEPLE? Or maybe ones who watch Snookie shows? and drive cars with automatic gearbox. Lamers.

  • walter12

    Yes, it is true. Facebook is insidious and completely impersonal. Down with Facebook.

  • Bill Smith

    Are these facts based on a scientific study, or just one man’s opinion. As a long-time Facebooker, I disagree with everything he says.

    • Slayerdude

      The first stage in a drug addiction is denial.

    • Jefferson

      I think the comments at least show that many people have a strong negative impression of their facebook experience. It does provide enough reason to do some experimentation, why don’t you investigate it for the benefit of everyone?

      For what it’s worth, I *have* done some informal personal experimentation using the scientific process, and my results lead me to believe that if you don’t already have good habits, FB will slow down your progress in several areas relating to personal development. Unfortunately the only good solution is to form habits that structure your schedule such that you use unwavering conviction to allot oneself a specific amount of time to devote to social networking-style applications. For some people, this will never happen unless perhaps they quit “cold turkey”.. But hey, personal responsibility reigns in the world of survival-of-the-fittest.

      No one is suggesting legislative action to dictate personal behavior, so people who seem to be offended by notions that FB might have some negative effects on the majority of people can just calm down :)

blog comments powered by Disqus
Taz Goes Big!
Download Now!

Listen Live