Can Social Media Make You Happier?
Social media has become a daily staple in our lives. We take time out of our day to post pictures and statuses to inform our followers and friends what we are up to. We live through the experiences of what others post, which is typically the most exciting and interesting part of their lives. This leads us to the question of whether social media makes you happier. The simplest answer may be, “it depends on how you use it.”
FOMO, or fear of missing out, plagues a huge number of social media users. What could be worse than deciding to stay in for a night, only to constantly reload Twitter and Facebook to see that your friends are having a great time without you? The fear of missing out on something more fun can be so intense for some that even when they have decided to disconnect from their social media they are still constantly checking their phones.
Ultimately, we are connected to fake personas that we promote to our friends and followers. I say fake because we only promote the best side of our lives on social networking sites. Doing this creates the urge to constantly check social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to see the latest updates in people’s lives. Ultimately, it creates the question as to whether we will ever settle for what we have, or cling to the fear that we may be missing out on something better all the time.
Gone are the days of collecting happy moments and storing them in a memory box or small cedar chest. Instead, these happy memories and mementos are uploaded onto sites like Instagram and Facebook to be shared and liked by virtual friends and followers. But instead of being a private celebration of happiness, this effectively turns social media into a “my-life-is-better-than-yours” competition.
Bad for Your Overall Well-Being
Studies are now showing that social media can be bad for your overall well-being. It’s scary to think that there is a direct link to time spent on Facebook and depression. It is also now confirmed that getting “likes” and comments causes your body to release dopamine, which is a chemical that makes you feel happy and good. I think it is safe to say that we all have felt a sense of accomplishment and happiness when someone likes your status on Facebook, or retweets or favorites you on Twitter.
The bad thing about these good feelings is that they make us itch and crave the next “like” or “favorite.” Procrastination then sets in as we wait, constantly waiting for a rewarding notification sound on our phone to feel good once again. All of this can put added stress on our already stressful and hectic lives, as we sit in a vicious cycle that many think actually makes us feel lonelier.
Stop the Comparisons
It is just human nature to compare ourselves to others in order to learn from one another. Social media is almost like a game, where we are in a never-ending competition to one-up another friend or follower. We are all at war with another for likes and favorites and we compete by posting pictures of our expensive dinners, vacations, and social interactions.
When this becomes too much, too stressful, and makes us extremely anxiety-prone, it may be best to stop the comparisons. Limit the amount of time you spend on social media sites. Ultimately, there will always be someone on your Facebook and Twitter timeline who is more successful and more accomplished than you. Stop comparing yourself to them and pay less attention to them so you do not lose sight of your own goals and successes.
Social Happiness Experiments
Happier is a recent social media site that has one goal in mind, which one might guess is to make you feel happy. This social media site runs a blog full of posts promoting happiness and positivity. With Happier, users can become more energetic, less stressed, and get more out of their lives. What is cool about the site is that there are prompts for different moments that you may encounter during your day. Users are also capable of making their moments “just for them,” which makes the site as personal or public as the users want in a very simple manner.
Social media enthusiasts can also search for happiness by participating in public happiness projects. For instance, a project called #100HappyDays, challenges participants to submit a picture every day of them being happy, for 100 days. Undoubtedly, this will result in a book deal for the creator, but it can still prove to be an interesting task to undertake – and who knows, maybe it will make you happier. On the site, they explain that this is not a happiness competition or a showing-off contest. They explain that 71% of people who attempt the challenge fail because of lack of time. Then they dare the reader: “These people simply did not have time to be happy. Do you?”
Only time will tell if social media makes us happier. However, one thing is certain: social media is not going away anytime soon. So it’s a good idea to learn to live with it and maybe even thrive with it.