Does Social Media affect Happiness?

With the increase of social media usage across all groups of people worldwide, there have been studies outlining its affects.

One recent study from Yale/UC (https://9to5mac.com/2017/05/26/facebook-yale-uc-study-health-and-happiness/) has proven the negative affects of Facebook.

How could a platform that helps people connect, learn, communicate, share ideas and moments be bad for us? My personal and professional opinion after spending over 20 years in the Advertising industry and an early adopter of most social media platforms, is that the medium is not the issue, but the issue is how we use that medium. Sounds obvious but this is the reason for why most of us go through life making excuses and blaming others for the life we have.

Yes, these cash-rich and policy-influencing social media companies have derived ways of luring, persuading and design user-experiences that guide us ‘sheepingly’ into meeting their business objectives – however, we have choices. Even our own circle of associates have great influences on how we use these products. So how do we escape, or do we want to escape?

Social media has been an integral part of all our lives, whether we like it or not, it’s here to stay and will advance in much more incredible ways in the future. We need to decide how we can harness its power and utility and filter out the content/people that don’t improve our lives. Social media behaviors reflect how we think about ourselves, and how we live our lives. We often think that we can interact with social media anonymously without anyone knowing our online behavior, think again. Everything is trackable and IT IS BEING TRACKED. This is not the reason why we should be careful about our online conduct, but we should consider that anything we do behind closed doors will have a direct affect on our reality.

Social media can bring joy if we approach it with the right mindset.

FOMO is a modern acronym to describe the “Fear of Missing Out”. Often associated with exposure to social media posts of others having fun at parties, relaxing on beautiful beaches, or doing something that you wish you were doing.

This fear of missing out is embedded in our human instinct as we have strived for survival thousands of years ago. Our ancestors needed these traits to ensure they have food and shelter. If you were the few who didn’t participate in whatever tribal activities, and migration paths, it would surely spell the end.

In today’s society, we haven’t yet been able to negotiate our minds to think differently. If fact, FOMO extends beyond social media to our everyday decisions. From buying certain products to how we choose our spouse, careers, and lifestyle.

People often buy feature-rich products in hopes thinking they would need all these features to enrich their lives. For example, people would buy a toaster with grill function, bagel inserts, butter warmer, and flashlight — only to find out that they only use it to toast bread. This initial fear of missing out allows products with rich features to sell better out of the gates, but perform poorly the longer these products are in market. In fact, BMW discovered that their 7-series were selling poorly until they simplified the features.

The anxiety of missing out has caused us to make some poor decisions throughout our lives. How many of us have picked a career path because we saw someone else profit largely from it? How many of us have chosen a spouse based on their popularity among peers and family members? Or made silly, and regrettable purchases due to seeing others ‘superficially’ enjoying that same product?

It is harder and harder to separate ‘the need’ vs. ‘the want’, and even harder to separate ‘your want’ vs. ‘other’s wants’ – meaning that you may not even like what you see on social media, but convince yourself that you want something that someone else has – just because you idealize that person.

Be aware of what makes you happy and what fits your character. If you are a homebody, it’s better for you to spend time doing things you like, instead of attending a party just to be seen. If you don’t like to travel, don’t feel pressured by images of sandy beaches – just so that you can post on social media or tell co-workers of your exotic vacation. Will others pay your bills? Ultimately, you need to do what aligns with your personality – at the end of the day, you reap the benefits and pay for any choices you make.

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Neo B. Concio, Author: “The Millionaire Employee: Simple Steps to Freedom