Facebook Could Increase Your Life Span

By Derek Thompson

If people with greater social relationships are "50 percent more likely to live longer than their socially reclusive counterparts," as one new study shows, doesn't it follow that obsessively using a social media program like Facebook or Twitter could make you live longer?

I choose yes. It does follow. Facebook is the new apple-a-day! OK, now back to the actual survey:

Friends and social relationships are healthy not only because they help us buffer negative or stressful events in our lives, Holt-Lunstad said, but they also encourage us to make better choices, decrease our risk-taking behavior and provide meaningful roles in our lives.

This all makes sense, but of course, correlation is never causation. Healthier people might feel more extroverted, or have more energy, and might attract more friends. Switch around the variables to say healthy-looking people with above average disposable income have an advantage in making friends or social reclusivenes correlates with some negative health habits and you're not making news.

This study was mostly conducted outside the world of Facebook and other social media programs. In fact, it turns out that the study's authors wouldn't agree with my headline at all:

One of the concerns about online relationships is that many stay superficial, promoting the trend that "people feel more connected but less truly intimate," said Timothy B. Smith, co-author and counseling psychology professor at BYU.

I guess Mark Zuckerberg might not live forever.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2010/07/facebook-could-increase-your-life-span/60561/