Does social media make us unhappy?

Are you always online? Are you always updating your friends about what you’re doing? Social media has changed the way we live our lives and whilst this constant ability to be able to share can be really exciting, some have argued that being constantly contactable can make us unhappy.

Your parents may have a phone which they use for work. The ability for them to be able to access their work e-mails on their mobile no matter where they are means that they may find it difficult to ‘switch off’ when outside of the workplace. This instant pressure to respond is seen amongst young people too, especially when using apps like Whatsapp and Kik which inform users when their message has been ‘read’.

This ‘social pressure’ highlights our desire to belong, to be involved and to contribute in a 24/7 digital age. It is no wonder that research has shown that 60% of people feel exhausted with this permanently ‘switched on’ lifestyle, with some people even taking breaks from  social networks and refusing to use them for a period of time.

However, this is not the entire story. Not only are people reporting that they feel exhausted from their digital interactions, but they’re also claiming that it is making them unhappy.

Numerous explanations have been given for why this is the case. Firstly, it has been suggested that the average social network user has 303 friends on their account but is likely to have meaningful friendships with only 10% of these. This means therefore that the majority of the status updates, pictures, videos and comments we are exposed to on social media is irrelevant or of little interest. Secondly, online profiles have led to people developing two personas, a real world self and a digital self, resulting in us being able to present ourselves online as we ideally want to be seen. This often leads us to the conclusion that everyone else has a much more exciting life than our own, making us feel unhappy.

Too much of anything can be bad for us. Our excessive exposure to ‘exciting’ things happening in the lives of people who we wouldn’t think of as  ‘close friends’ outside our digital social networks is having a negative effect on our happiness. This issue is unlikely to go away anytime soon as the use of smartphones continues to rise at an incredible pace resulting in more people being constantly connected . So next time you think about sharing photos, videos and status updates with your ‘friends’, just think… Is your showing off leading them to switch off??

To read the full story about how social media is affecting our happiness, click here.