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Lonely people die younger, social contacts help to live longer. Digital
“social” media are said to make you lonely. So Hobbs et al.’s headline, claiming online socialising to work nearly as well as in real life, must come as a godsend to all those digital entrepreneurs out there. As so often happens, their real result is well hidden near the end of the introduction, the least read part of an article.
These results are suggestive that offline social activities—and not online activities—are driving the relationship between overall Facebook activity and decreased mortality risk.
Another telling point is that little,
“moderate” use is better than lots of it with a linear dose-effect relationship. This strongly reminds of alcohol. The more you drink the worse the consequences, with the exception of abstainers. Is a little alcohol actually good for you? Possibly, but probably not. The group of abstainers encompasses sick people, forbidden alcohol on medical grounds, and long term alcoholics. The same may be at work here. Facebook use is ubiquitous. Those, who do not use it at all, tend to be cranks like me and other asocials. Looking at normal people alone, the less you use it, the better it is for you.
Is any hint of that true result given in the headline, in the abstract, or in the conclusions? Is it? And more importantly, have any of the editors of the prestigious PNAS or any of their highly regarded referees noticed?
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