Why Social Media Can Make You Happy

12/22/2016 04:22 pm ET Updated Dec 23, 2016
Twitter users meeting up IRL
Twitter users meeting up IRL

Well done University of Copenhagen, you have concluded what is the bleeding obvious: if you constantly stare at other people’s Facebook posts for long enough, you’ll get extremely agitated and potentially end up down in the dumps.

In the study of over 1000 people, who were mainly women (86%), participants were split into two groups. One group was asked to continue their use of Facebook as normal, the other asked to stop using Facebook for a week. I don’t know why it was so skewed towards a certain demographic, but this alone means we can’t really apply many sweeping statements about what the study means for society as a whole.

I’ll grant them that, if they’re anything like me, going without Facebook for a week is tough enough, but is a week enough to say how much of an impact the break has?

The purpose of this article is not to challenge the study’s findings. But there’s an undercurrent across society that says social media use has negative connotations for that society. That, somehow, we’re not talking to each other enough or that relationships are suffering as a consequence. Parents and children don’t communicate. We also hear of horror stories of cyber-bullying, trolling and grooming via social networks.

Of course, these things do occur, just as scrolling down your newsfeed without interacting with anyone can make you feel lonely in the same way that being a member of society without engaging can too.

You see, social media is just a method. Not a perfect method, for sure, but a mechanism to communicate with others none the less.

I can understand how being presented with images of a picture perfect life can cause angst, jealousy, anger, depression. I’ve been there.

It doesn’t have to.

Despite providing consultancy on the matter, I have to break it to you, my social media activity is not perfect. I get things wrong, I say the odd thing that’s inappropriate. I make a joke on someone’s post and it pans. I’m human, like every other person on social media (OK, except the bots).

What I do know is that I have immersed myself in communities that are fun, collaborative, helpful, supportive. And I’ve achieved this by getting involved. At first it was scary, contributing to a Twitter chat not knowing if what you were saying makes sense or if you will be laughed at for your view. Each social network has different etiquette which you have to learn - you can only learn by trying.

Where you struggle to find kindred spirits in real life, social media gives scope to connect with like-minded souls that are facing the same challenges as you, whether professionally or socially. Whatever your life choices there is a Facebook group out there for you. Check out Lyf and get supported by people going through what you are. Need a question answering? Try the new Whale app. There is someone out there who you can talk with who will appreciate you without judgement.

I’m a member of various groups that help me with my business. I attend a social media Twitter chat (#notsmlondon) every Tuesday at 11am UK time. I comment on other’s updates on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Snapchat. Just yesterday, I had a problem with a technical issue with a Facebook ad audience. Someone I didn’t know, from Israel, recorded a video walk-through of a potential solution and sent it to me. Because they wanted to. No charge.

I am actively involved in a community of people who all want to have a conversation. Some of these people I would consider friends, even though we live thousands of miles apart. I feel supported in my efforts to build my business. I feel loved when someone congratulates me on a job well done. I laugh at the banter between us all.

Chelsea Peitz. A great example of someone sharing a positive message, helping others, encouraging dialogue.
Chelsea Peitz Snapchat
Chelsea Peitz. A great example of someone sharing a positive message, helping others, encouraging dialogue.

Social media makes me happy.

One of the reasons why Facebook lurking can be negative is that we tend to be Facebook friends with people that we know, have known and want to keep knowing, and some that we’d rather not know. My advice to anyone who feels sad when they catch up on Facebook (or any other platform) is to not bother with that network and join other platforms that are more suited to a positive experience.

You have a choice. A choice who to follow, who to block, who to strike up a conversation with. Be brave, start that conversation with someone whose content you like. Say ‘Hi’. Tell them you like what they do. Make a positive contribution and give them a warm feeling. Just be a nice person; they’ll probably be nice back.

May I leave you with a guy who has, for the past 90 days been promoting a Zero Negativity Cleanse on Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook, Adam Purcell (@purcelliraptor) of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Adam brings a positive outlook on his life and the opportunity to improve yours. Please check him out and support this excellent example of how social media really can make you feel good.

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