I’m a big advocate of social media (have I shocked you with that sentence?). I love it so much I made it part of my business! I’m always a little put-off when someone says they are not on at least one social media site. I cried tears of joy when a good friend finally set up her Facebook account over the weekend. In a world of smart phones and tablets, it truly is a faster way to stay connected than even making a phone call nowadays.
Last week yet another study about social media and emotional health surfaced. I always enjoy reading these studies. Naturally, I read every study with my cool hipster-skeptic glasses on. You always need to know where a study comes from, how many were involved, what questions were asked, etc, etc. Studies are good to get a very basic idea of how people are thinking. This latest study says that reading Facebook updates can make you depressed and envious. You know, because according to Facebook everyone has absolutely perfect, happy lives. Why don’t you?
(Never mind just a couple of weeks ago a study emerged stating that you feel less lonely when you post to Facebook.) Sorry- one study at a time, Dani!
From the article: “Witnessing friends’ vacations, love lives and work successes on Facebook can cause envy and trigger feelings of misery and loneliness, according to German researchers.”
“The researchers found that one in three people felt worse after visiting the site and more dissatisfied with their lives, while people who browsed without contributing were affected the most.”
What is everyone envious of? Apparently how everyone is out having a good time, has an awesome family, travels, gets more “likes” and posts on their wall on birthdays, and looks so much more amazing than they do. And you? You are just sitting at home reading their updates, loser.
After some more contemplation, I definitely could see in myself where this has been true. I catch myself falling victim to the green monster at times when scrolling the news feed. It happens even to the most rational of people (I would like to think I am a fairly rational person, at least 70% of the time). It’s a completely normal reaction, when all you see is the good. I’ll type that again- all you see is the good. No one is going to post that they have just had another fight with their significant other, snap a picture of their angry face and put it on Instagram (and if you do, please stop). You’re looking at the awesome photo of the family having the best vacation ever at Disneyland. What you didn’t see is that it took 10 minutes of wrangling to get that shot, and then immediately after the youngest child threw up on a sibling.
This is the key to conquering the social media blues. People are going to post mostly the good things that happen, then tell (and show) you how amazing it is. The study also states people post even MORE happy statuses, in an effort to make their lives seem more amazing than they really are! It turns into a subconscious competition of status updates. Humans are strange beings.
Keep in mind that the lives you are reading about are not 100% perfect 100% of the time. You are only getting a small percentage of a person’s life via Facebook updates. Status updates are more like status brags. You are only seeing what that person wants you to see. If you still feel that envy, try and figure out why. Do you see your friends getting together all the time, and you fume about why they are not including you? Try giving them a call and make your own plans with them. Maybe your envy over someone’s vacation photos is just the universe telling you it’s time to plan your own getaway.
Be happy, and be smart about social media. If you are smart about social media on the personal side, it will ensure that you are smart about social media on the business side.