Fredericton — Charlotte County, New Brunswick will lose access to Facebook for one full month this winter as part of a Health Canada study into the effects of social media on mental wellness. Health Canada will oversee the study that will actually be carried out by researchers from the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton.
Dr. Julius Pepper, dean of clinical research, said the results of this behavioural study will eventually be used to observe social media trends around the world.
“It’s the first time a study of such a large sample size has been attempted anywhere, and the first time a study looking into the effects of social media deprivation has been conducted in 20 years,” Dr. Pepper said with confidence, despite the fact that neither of these assertions is true. “In science circles this is very exciting.”
In fact, the last time researchers in North America have attempted to research social media withdrawal patterns was in 2005 by the American Medical Association, who implemented a blackout of the popular social media website MySpace for a three-week period, ultimately leading to the demise of the site.
Pepper believes a breakthrough is imminent. “It will give us great insight into the human reliance on social media and how society copes when it is no longer accessible. We chose Charlotte County because it gives us a sample size of around 25,000 people in which to establish a base. This will give us enough data to ascertain what regional, or even global trends would emerge if there were restricted, or no access to social media.”
However, residents are upset that the seemingly random choice of Charlotte County for the study will mean that they are deprived of their most important means of communication and entertainment.
“Well I’m not happy about it at all,” said Deer Island dweller Perry Winkler. “Most people got rid of their home phones and only use Facebook. What am I supposed to do when I want to ‘like’ my buddy’s picture of a car or share a contest?! Take the ferry?!”
Patricia Halford of Friar’s Bay questioned the study’s timing. “I’m not saying that we don’t need science, but why does it have to be in December? I mean it’s Christmas. How will I know what gifts to buy for people if I can’t read about all the stuff they want on Facebook?
“Furthermore, without it, I won’t get any of those Facebook invites to Christmas or New Year’s Eve parties. How am I gonna click ‘maybe’ and then never show up if I don’t even know it’s happening?! People need Facebook to communicate with their families and loved ones. I just hope that they’ll reconsider.”
The Charlotte County Facebook blackout will commence Dec. 1, 2017 and end on Jan. 1, 2018.