99 Days of Freedom explores how people’s emotions are influenced by Facebook.
“It’s complicated” seems to be the relationship status most people have with Facebook. While we love the access it gives us to our friends’ lives, we begrudge the hold it has over us and the superficial online relationships it can foster. How many times have you or a friend pledged to get off Facebook, only to succumb to it and reactivate your account two weeks later? Now, a mood experiment has launched that asks people to get off Facebook for 99 days to test how it effects their mood.
99 Days of Freedom asks participants to set their profile picture to a “time-off” image and then spend 99 consecutive off the site, while recording their mood at certain time intervals – 33, 66 and 99 days.
The project, by Dutch creative agency Just, was inspired by Facebook’s own controversial mood experiments, which they conducted without the permission of it’s users. “Like many other users, we were bothered by the secret mood experiments,” said Merijn Straathof, Just’s Art Director. “[Discussing it internally we realized] everyone had at least a ‘complicated’ relationship with Facebook. Whether it was being tagged in unflattering photos, getting into arguments with other users or simply regretting time lost through excessive use, there was a surprising degree of negative sentiment. Then someone joked, ‘I guess that the real question is, ‘How do you feel when you don’t use Facebook?’ There was group laughter, followed by, ‘Wait a second. That’s a really good question!”.
The team chose 99 days as the duration of the experiment because it was long enough to make an impact on the user’s lives but short enough so they do not get bored of the experiment.
According to Just, in those 99 days we would normally spend 28 hours on Facebook. That is based on research that the average user spends 17 minutes a day perusing the social media site. The hope is that participants inthe experiment will find better uses of their time..
Although 99 Days of Freedom sounds like an anti-Facebook initiative – the name alone suggests we are prisoners of the site – the people at Just insist that it is not. Says Straathof:
Facebook is an incredible platform and we believe that there’s a lot to love about the service. But we also feel that there are obvious emotional benefits to moderation. Our prediction is that the experiment will yield a lot of positive personal experiences and, 99 days from now, we’ll know whether that theory has legs.
People have been deactivating and reactivating their accounts since Facebook launched. The desire to know everything mixed with a dose of FOMO is a strong, yet annoying pull to the site. 99 Days of Freedom may prove something we already know – studies suggest that being on Facebook makes its users depressed – but does that mean we’ll listen?