Facebook and happiness

Welcome 2014!

One of my reflections as 2013 drew to a close was that I have not been writing as much this year- it was a rough year and I guess I wasn’t as inspired. So this year I vow to write more- in fact my third one in a row!

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This post is more about my observations on social media. I am not a huge party person: in the last 3 months, we went out for my birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year with some close friends- nothing too crazy! I put a few pictures on Facebook of each event- maybe 2-3 pictures. But as I called some family and friends, somehow they were under the impression that I transformed to a social butterfly- nothing wrong with that, just that it is not true!

As I thought about that comment, I looked at my profile closely. I realized I only post about stuff that is happy- when I have a good time with my hubby or friends. The only moderately unhappy posts are about weather- I am not a fan of winter!

This year was rough, with ankle surgery and unintended consequences of ankle surgery- knee cyst that now needs to be operated. In fact in my own words, this would have been my most challenging year. But I consciously avoided posting about all my negative emotions- I have seen some of my friends do it, and it just made them sound whiny.

This made me wonder- does the control of our Facebook lives impact others?

If I think deeper on why I don’t post my negative emotions, I think it i primarily because I don’t think anyone would like or interact with it. I mean who would like to react to “I am having the worst year, I hope it will be 2014”- it sounds like I am trying to get attention, and have friends say why, what happened, etc. And if it doesn’t happen it might make me feel no one cares. It is reassuring to post a picture of you having a good time, and have 10-20 friends like it- it makes you feel better about yourself.

One of my single friends quit Facebook when she turned 30 because her feed was full of wedding and baby pictures. Though she didn’t feel she was missing out on much, watching the Facebook feed made her feel inadequate. I understand that sentiment- every time I see pictures of my friends travels, I felt a slight tinge of envy because we haven’t been able to go for the last 2 years.

There are several papers linking Facebook usage to lower self esteem. Part of the reason for the lower self esteem is because people would like to show themselves in the best light. Most of us can now use Photoshop software to cover blemishes, airbrush ourselves and show our most perfect self on our profiles. Editing out our negative emotions and showcasing our best days makes our life look perfect and almost unrealistic!

This article covers the same topic and offers a comprehensive perspective. Link: http://www.wbur.org/2013/02/20/facebook-perfection

My brother captured it in one simple line: “Facebook profile is how we want to world to see us, Google knows what we are really thinking!”

So I can’t help wondering how much does our Facebook profile really tell us about our friends?

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