For Greater Happiness, Limit Social Media Time, Studies Suggest

An impressively large study out of Italy confirms what many American researchers have found here at home: too much time spent on social media correlates negatively with wellbeing and happiness.

An impressively large study out of Italy confirms what many American researchers have found here at home: too much time spent on social media correlates negatively with wellbeing and happiness. And while American studies have often been limited to self-selected populations of college undergraduates, the Italian research, conducted alongside the country's National Institute of Statistics, gathered data from 24,000 Italian households corresponding to 50,000 individuals.


"[The survey] found for example that...if you tend to trust people and have lots of face-to-face interactions, you will probably assess your well-being more highly. But of course interactions on online social networks are not face-to-face and this may impact the trust you have in people online. It is this loss of trust that can then affect subjective well-being rather than the online interaction itself."

Particularly troubling to researchers was the amount of discrimination and hate speech commonly found in places where people go to express themselves and gauge the opinion of others. The team concluded that better moderation of social networks could greatly improve user experience and positively affect self-assesment of their wellbeing. This is the first time that use of social networks was addressed in such a large and nationally representative study.

I previously wrote about the role of social media in creating an echo chamber for inflexible ideology instead of diversifying the marketplace of ideas--an effect exacerbated by search algorithms that return results based partially on your past browsing history.

Ultimately the power is in our hands says University of Chicago neuroscientist John Cacioppo. In his Big Think interview he explains how we can use technology to create meaningful social interaction:

Read more at MIT Technology Review

Photo credit: Shutterstock

The contentious history of the Anarchist Cookbook

Numerous critics have called for the ban of the infamous instruction manual for violent civil disobedience.

Scott Olson/Getty Images
Culture & Religion
  • The Anarchist Cookbook provides instructions for making bombs, drugs, and operating firearms; naturally, this makes it rather controversial.
  • Concerned citizens, anarchists themselves, and many others have called for the ban of the book, but most liberal democracies have refused to do so.
  • Whether you think dangerous literature should be banned or whether banning books is an inherently anti-democratic position, knowing and understanding why the Anarchist Cookbook draws so much criticism can be valuable.
Keep reading Show less

The world's watersheds, mapped in gorgeous detail

Hungarian cartographer travels the world while mapping its treasures.

Strange Maps
  • Simple idea, stunning result: the world's watersheds in glorious colors.
  • The maps are the work of Hungarian cartographer Robert Szucs.
  • His job: to travel and map the world, one good cause at a time.
Keep reading Show less

Cahokia: North America's massive, ancient city

It was a sprawling civilization.

Public Domain
Culture & Religion
  • Near modern-day St. Louis, Missouri, you can find towering mounds of earth that were once the product of a vast North American culture.
  • Cahokia was the largest city built by this Native American civilization.
  • Because the ancient people who built Cahokia didn't have a writing system, little is known of their culture. Archaeological evidence, however, hints at a fascinating society.
Keep reading Show less