Is Facebook Better Than Sex? Opinions Differ.

Photo by Jodi Cobb

It’s a battle of the surveys, as a German study finds that Facebook and email are more irresistible than sex, while an Australian one argues that sex offers far more pleasure and meaning than online pursuits.

According to a smartphone-based German survey released in October, while the sex drive is stronger overall than the desire to check Facebook or Twitter, people are more likely to give in to social media temptations. As study author Wilhelm Hofmann explains, “Media desires, such as social networking, checking emails, surfing the Web or watching television might be hard to resist in light of the constant availability, huge appeal, and apparent low costs of these activities.” In other words, Facebook often trumps sex because of its convenience.

A new Australian study takes a slightly different tack, asking participants to rank 30 activities–everything from listening to music to doing housework–based on four measures: the pleasure they provide, their meaningfulness, their level of engagement (i.e. how absorbed you become in an activity), and how happy they make you feel. Here, sex received the top rank in all four categories. Surprisingly, participants derived more meaning from sex than they did from volunteering or religious activities. Meanwhile, Facebook scored dead last on the meaningfulness scale, and only narrowly beat out commuting, paid work, housework, and sickness  in the amount of happiness it inspires.

If both studies are to be believed, sex is inconvenient but well worth your time, while Facebook is joyless and meaningless but nonetheless irresistible.

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Human Journey

Since 2005, Michael has been a librarian at National Geographic.