Facebook is Making You Unhappy and Stressed

Study Finds Quitting Facebook Makes You Happier and Less Stressed definitely fits my already negative perception of Facebook:

Researchers at the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen (yep, that does exist)… took a group of 1,095 Facebook users and split them into two groups. The first group were allowed to continue using the social network on a daily basis, while the other group were forced to go completely cold turkey, staying off the site for the duration of the experiment.

The results were incredibly revealing – after just 7 days 88% of the group that left Facebook said they felt “happy” as opposed to 81% in the group still using the site. They also felt less angry, less lonely, less depressed, more decisive, more enthusiastic, and enjoyed their lives more. Ditching Facebook also appeared to reduce stress levels by as much as 55%.

When I started writing regularly on my blog, I decided to resurrect my years-dormant Facebook account as a publicizing channel. I promised myself that I would stop doing so if I found myself engaging on Facebook in anything more than a superficial manner. Good call. Via Daring Fireball.

Parenting is Overrated

Nearly everything about a child’s “success” in the world has nothing to do with parenting:

[P]arenting styles inside the home, apart from extreme cases like abuse or neglect, have very little long-term influence on a person’s personality or success in life, at least that social scientists have been able to detect.

[Y]our kids’ long-term fate will not be meaningfully affected by the speed and timing of potty training, the brand of educational videos you purchase, or the precise tone of voice in which you discipline. A large proportion of the Parenting Industrial Complex isn’t about kids — it’s about generating content for nervous parents who feel like they should be doing something… Another way of putting this same point is that an enormous amount of a child’s fate is determined by luck, by accidents of birth, socioeconomics, and geography.

This is so true. My childhood was not rosy, but I wasn’t abused or especially neglected and I happen to be a white, male, heterosexual person straddling the 20th and 21st centuries in North America. And this is now true for my son (save the 20th century part). This may be discouraging for people who want to find loads of meaning in their activities as a parent, but I think that they’ve been sold the wrong bill of goods. And I mean that quite literally:

There is a large industry in America devoted to making parents anxious, mainly so they will spend money on products and services that temporarily ease their anxieties. One recurring theme in that industry’s messaging is preparation.

But one of the profound truths of parenthood is that your child is their own person with half your genes that you’re merely housing and clothing and feeding until they leave to continue the life that they’ve always been living with a steady decrease of your influence as a parent. Rather than stressing about the future, just enjoy every moment:

Life is just a series of moments, and it’s amazing how many of them we miss, rush past, or disrupt because our minds are elsewhere, anticipating the future or dwelling on the past. But a moment of joy or connection is its own justification, not a means to an end. Play can just be fun. Fart jokes can just be funny. Daydreaming and wasted time don’t have to be framed as developmental tools; they’re just nice.

Relax. Don’t ship rubber floors to your holiday villa.

Thoughts on Rest

Although I’m really enjoying my experiment with polyphasic sleep, I’ve been troubled by some of the implied values in the rhetoric surrounding its proponents. They desire more productive time in their life and are taking it from they only place they can: a full night’s sleep.

Being productive is a good thing in itself, but industrialization brought with it cold calculations of human worth based on productivity. You are only worth what you produce, and those who don’t or can’t produce are worthless. There is little room for joy or art or play in this view of the world, and there is no space for rest but what is absolutely required.

Rest is a theological concept that has to do with more than just sleep. Rest is connected to the idea of Sabbath, the day of rest mandated for the Jewish people by Yahweh. Sabbath became a broader concept for Christians, who were taught by Jesus that rest is not about legalastic observation of the Sabbath, but rather some broader concept of being in relationship with himself.1

Rest is here seen as a state of being and as a relationship to God in Christ. Rest seems to be a way to describe a life lived in harmony with God and God’s purposes. While productivity is no doubt a part of the rhythms of a restful life, it cannot be the main thing.

So, has my experiment with polyphasic sleep led to a frenzy of productivity? Not really. I’m still adjusting, which means that those extra hours of wakefulness haven’t been of the highest quality. But even when I’ve been alert, I’ve noticed that, so far, I’m not doing that much more, but what I am doing is much less stressful. It seems that having more time in the day produces the novel feeling that there’s enough time. I’m relaxed and unhurried. It’s delightfully strange.

We’ll see how things evolve as I keep on with this. Will I once again fill my waking hours to bursting? Will I maintain the more restful quality of life I’ve been experiencing over the last 2 weeks? Time will tell.


  1. See Mk 2:23-28 and Mat 11:28. 

Intensity

This is a crazy week. At the end of it, I’ll be over 3000 kms away from where I sit right now. Back to Winnipeg! This is good, but there’s a lot to do between now and then. Thankfully exams and papers are done. This is good. However, Jac and I are cramming a bunch of madness into our last bit of time here: we’re moving to a different apartment. The good part is that it’s down the hall. The bad part is that it’s moving. It’ll be great once we’re moved in: it’s bigger, has way better natural light, etc. But it’s moving, which is never fun.

Add to this the fact that the place we’re moving into is only halfway renovated, and you have stress. We have to move all of our stuff into the living room, which is the only room completely renovated. Ugh. This means that we’ll have a bunch of setup to do when we get back. Ugh. It’ll be great and so much better once we’re settled in. That’ll be nice…

Anyways, venting session over. we’re really looking forward to seeing all our prairie people!