This is fascinating. It's not the classic "people don't have social lives in the real world because they are on line too much" argument. The authors argue that following people who are "different" from you is bad for you. They write:
"Compared to face-to-face interactions, online networks allow users to silently observe the opinions and behaviors of an immensely wider share of their fellow citizens. The
psychological literature has shown that most people tend to overestimate the extent to which their beliefs
or opinions are typical of those of others. There is a tendency for people to assume that their own opinions, beliefs, preferences, values, and habits are âoenormalâ and that others also think the same way that they do. This cognitive bias leads to the perception of a consensus that does not exist, or a 'false consensus' (Gamba, 2013)."
"The more people used Facebook at one time point, the worse they felt afterwards; the more they used Facebook over two weeks, the more their life satisfaction levels declined over time. The effects found by the authors were not moderated by the size of people's Facebook networks, their perceived supportiveness, motivation for using Facebook, gender, loneliness, self-esteem, or depression, thus suggesting the existence of a direct link between SNSs' use and subjective well-being."
This is a new result, and needs confirmation. Are homogeneous societies happier ones? Should that be replicated on line?
Should efforts be made in Facebook to keep people from having "different" friends?