Good news for social media users: A new study from Pew Research Center found that using social media doesn’t add extra stress to people’s lives.
The bad news: You might have to ignore all of your Facebook friends in order for this to actually be true.
Pew found that “frequent Internet and social media” use doesn’t lead to higher than normal stress. Instead, “awareness of stressful events in others’ lives” is what causes stress from social platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
That means that logging into Twitter doesn’t stress you out. But when you see your cousin post about losing his job, you stress on his behalf. As Pew phrased it, “stress is contagious.”
So how is it that social media use doesn’t stress you out, but what you read on social media can? Are the two not one and the same?
Pew doesn’t think so, claiming that the two elements — stress and social media use — are indirectly related. “It is the social uses of digital technologies, and the way they increase awareness of distressing events in others’ lives, that explains how the use of social media can result in users feeling more stress,” the report reads.
These findings contradict a somewhat widespread belief that social media does in fact stress people out (numerous studies and publications have reported this over the years).
In some cases, Pew found that social media can actually lower stress. For example, women who use multiple social and tech platforms — think Twitter, Instagram, text messaging — reported “less stress than women who do not use these technologies,” Pew wrote.
So go wild and join as many social networks as you want — just be careful whom you friend.