Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) may be raking it in because of advertising, but in the process, it appears to be making some people miserable. And yet, apparently we’re just a glutton for punishment because we just can’t stay away.

Facebook sad

Study suggests Facebook reduces happiness

The Economist reports (via Business Insider) about a study which was published by the Public Library of Science. That study suggested that the more people use Facebook, the less satisfied they are with their lives. The researchers worked with 82 Facebook users to complete their study. The users were either in their late teens or early 20s, and they completed questionnaires about their direct social contacts as well as their Facebook interactions.

Researchers found after analyzing their results, that the people who reported more real-life interactions were generally in a better state of mind compared with those who spent more time on Facebook. They reported being more positive and satisfied with their lives.

Why does Facebook affect us like this?

So exactly why does something which many people enjoy doing because it helps them reconnect with old friends make people feel so bad? A separate study suggests that the most common emotion elicited by the use of Facebook is actually envy. In other words, people who use the social network may be constantly comparing themselves to others, who may be embellishing a bit while posting to their Facebook wall. When it comes to real-life interactions, however, those tend to be more “what you see is what you get.” So if you tend to feel envious of others while using Facebook, maybe it’s time to lay off for a while.

It should be noted that both the first and second study targeted younger Facebook users in their 20s or younger. As a result, we don’t know if older people have these same issues. Perhaps once you’ve passed your 20s, you compare yourself to others less frequently. Certainly this is something that does come with maturity. It would be good to see these studies done for a slightly older set of Facebookers.