Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?

Conclusive proof: Sex is more enjoyable than Facebook

Research from a university in New Zealand using text messaging as its mode of examination concludes that people really enjoy sex and really don't enjoy Facebook and recovering from illness.

2 min read
Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Academia and Silicon Valley are in a race to see who can solve life's most important problems first.

Currently, the Valley is ahead, having shown you how to make pictures that look like they were taken 40 years ago.

However, academia is catching up, by bringing conclusions to life's most pressing questions.

I am, therefore, moved beyond safe levels of self-expression on hearing of a piece of research from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.

It set out to discover the true depths of what makes us happy and unhappy. What could be more fundamental than that?

Apparently, psychologists agree that there are three dimensions of happiness-seeking: through pleasure, engagement, and meaning.

The intellect behind this research, the happily named Carsten Grimm, decided to use text messaging to delve into people's inner triggers.

He told the Daily Mail: "I texted people three times a day over a week and the response rate was really high."

I am assuming these people knew he'd be texting, otherwise these would have been even weirder than some of the texts you get from AT&T.

Indeed, 97 percent of people replied to his texts and he sent them at random times throughout the day. This was as live an experiment as you could get.

The conclusions, too, are bracingly vibrant.

The No. 1 activity that makes people happy is -- gird yourself -- sex.

This is closely followed by drinking alcohol and volunteering. Which proves that guilt can drive you to pleasure too.

Other Top 10 appearances are made by activities such as listening to music, hobbies, and gaming.

What is truly shocking, though, is the Bottom 10.

At No. 1 here was "Recovering from Sickness." Perhaps this is understandable. Pain is rarely pleasure.

However, the second most miserable-making activity was Facebook.

Yes, people spend vast hours of their lives pouring over their virtual friends. But in their hearts, they are pouring out tears in recognition of the essential vacuousness of the exercise.

Beneath Facebook, there were more mundane and obvious sources of depression such as housework, commuting, and washing.

Grimm was effusive about his results. He really feels that greater knowledge of the different human pleasure dimensions can bring great fruit.

He told the Mail: "'This is a fascinating area of study and one I am really excited to be a part of. Hopefully as we learn more about what contributes to a full life we can help people increase their happiness in their daily lives."

I worry. For lurking at No. 5 in the negative column was something that might have given Grimm pause for gritty thought. The fifth most depressing activity was texting.

Were his respondents subtly trying to tell him something?