Does Facebook make you happy?
I wake up and the first thing I do is check Facebook. I felt a mild sense of shame doing this. Like it’s not ok for this to be the first activity of the day. Part of my shame comes from the vaguely judgmental way that social media use is reported by newspapers, media commentators and even the Australian Psychological Society (APS).
The APS released a study last year indicating that almost one in four adults report “heavy social media use”. Heavy use is considered connecting 5+ times per day. Five times per day is heavy? Apparently two in five are like me and connect within 15 minutes of waking.
Why is checking Facebook an issue?
The APS suggest that there is a strong connection between social media use and wellbeing where some (23-25% of adults) find it difficult to relax and/or sleep after use at night as well as report mental burnout from constant connection.
Fear of missing out (FOMO), the pervasive apprehension that others might be having more fun than you, is reported by nearly half of adults under 35. This is seen as one of the primary motivator for “heavy use”.
Some of my clients report perceptions that their friends have perfect lives and by comparison they have failed at life. We all have a tendency to compare ourselves at our worst to others at their best and FB more than ever before gives us visibility of (part of) other peoples’ lives in a way that our parents and grandparents never had to contend with. It’s no wonder that a sense of “not good enough” develops. Makes sense but it is not based on accurate information.
Happiness researcher, author and podcaster Gretchin Rubin says that while the most important aspect of happiness is relationships, Facebook tends to exaggerate your current experience. If you tend to compare yourself to others, then FB will amplify this and you will feel worse. If you tend to rejoice in the success of others, then this will be enhanced. So whether Facebook is “good” or “bad” depends on your personality, and perhaps the quality of your face-to-face relationships.
So there are some risks, I suppose, but benefits also. I love being able to see what mates are up to and to live vicariously through their holidays. I also enjoy periods of less connectivity as I at times feel automatically compelled to see what other’s are up to even though I am experiencing that mental burnout. So I hereby reject FB shaming though will try and be mindful about my use. And if it continues to be a part of my wake up routine, so be it.
Does FB make you happy? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic.