WASHINGTON—A comprehensive and groundbreaking new report released Monday by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project has found that only four users of Facebook derive pleasure of any kind from the popular social networking website.
According to the report, the remainder of the 950 million people registered with Facebook, despite using the site on a regular basis, take no joy in doing so, and in fact feel a profound sense of hopelessness and despair immediately upon logging in.
“An exhaustive analysis of our data indicates that Facebook does indeed have a positive impact on the day-to-day lives of Susannah Brambrink of Milwaukee, Tom Peros of San Diego, Eugene Phipps of Albuquerque, and Karen Fairbanks of rural Missouri,” lead researcher John Elliott said. “But all other users—literally all of them—are overpowered by a deep, nameless sadness when exposed to the site, and apparently only visit it out of some sick, inexplicable compulsion bordering on masochism.”
Added Elliott, “As it turns out, the vast majority of human beings tend to become depressed when they see the past five years of their life summarized right there in front of them in a sad little timeline.”
Indeed, the Pew report found that 99 percent of Facebook members could not recall having enjoyed any of the social network’s features at any time since 2009. Of that subset, 74 percent said they had asked themselves “How has my life come to this?” while checking the website multiple times per day, 67 percent said they were “inevitably plunged into an alternating cycle of vanity and self-disgust” when reviewing tagged pictures of themselves, and 52 percent said they had questioned the whole point of life itself after spending half an hour on the site only to realize the most interesting thing they had seen the entire time was a photo of what someone had for dinner.
In addition, more than three-quarters of users said they had “legitimately considered suicide” while watching politically charged arguments unfold in response to a Facebook post.
Reached for comment, two of the four people still able to spend time on Facebook without immediately calculating how much of their life they just let slip away spoke to reporters about their use of the site.
“Anytime I get a free moment, the first thing I do is check Facebook on my phone,” said Susannah Brambrink, 28, one of the last users on the face of the earth who can routinely update her profile without fearing that the smallest details of her personal life will be relentlessly mocked and ridiculed. “It’s just a fun way to stay in touch with friends and family, so I usually check it once or twice a day, if not more.”
“Sometimes I’ll be on there for an hour or more, just browsing people’s profiles,” continued Brambrink, who, unlike the other 214 million single women surveyed, said she was unconcerned by the possibility of finding out her ex-boyfriend was in a new relationship and having her heart ripped out of her chest all over again. “It’s cool to go back and see what somebody posted a year ago.”
Tom Peros, another of the four users for whom Facebook is not a constant source of anxiety fueled by narcissism and self-doubt, expressed a similar sentiment, saying it “just feels good” to read people’s status updates, a feature on the site that shows users how many things in life they’re missing out on and how many experiences they’re likely never to have.
Sources confirmed Peros is also able to explore his friends’ Facebook profiles without growing completely despondent in the face of information that documents exactly how people who were once close can drift further and further apart until they barely recognize each other and the only thing still uniting them is the superficial thread of social media.
“I love finding old classmates and seeing what they’re up to,” said Peros, who regularly skims the “Work and Education” section of profiles without reaching the soul-crushing conclusion that his own accomplishments are pathetic by comparison. “And if I’m not friends with them already, I’ll send them a request. I figure, what’s to lose? Even if you’re rejected, it’s presumably just because they don’t remember you, or else like to keep their friend list limited to people they know really well. Why else would they reject you? Right?”
At press time, the number of users who enjoy Facebook had reportedly dropped to three.