How Social Media Affects Your Happiness

social media and happiness

Social media has become an integral part of modern lives, and how it has changed how people interact is undeniable. Studies have shown that online social networks can provide benefits to mental health and well-being. They can help foster meaningful connections, provide support during difficult times, and increase feelings of connectedness. Additionally, they can create a sense of belonging which can lead to increased happiness and satisfaction in life.

With all the positive impact that research on social media suggests, it is common nowadays for people to scroll through social media to seek entertainment or updates on new information. People are starting to use social media not just to connect with others, but also as a way to seek happiness and pleasure    

One of the main reasons people use social media is because social media has enabled us to connect with people from around the world and keep in touch with our loved ones. But is it making us happy?

While it can bring people closer to friends and family, and offers various benefits in terms of facilitating social connection, it can also be filled with negativity. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the different effects it can have.

In this article, we will look at why social media makes some people unhappy and what you can do if you find yourself in this situation. We will explore how to manage your time better on social media platforms, how to avoid comparing yourself with others, and how to focus on activities that bring you joy instead of scrolling mindlessly.

Why social media makes people unhappy?

Just as the internet is a great source of information, it can also be a place that can cause significant harm. People should be aware of how social media affects them and how they can effectively manage their use to minimize negative impacts on their mental health.

Despite the common assumptions that social media can bring meaningful connections and increase well-being, studies have shown that people who spend more time on social media are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and feelings of loneliness. This is mainly because people tend to compare themselves to others on social media which can lead to feelings of inadequacy or envy. 

Social comparison is a natural human behavior that has been around since the dawn of time. It involves comparing oneself to others, either positively or negatively. With the advent of social media, this behavior has become more prevalent and can have a significant impact on our happiness and well-being.

Unfortunately, when people compare themselves to others on social media, it often leads to feelings of unhappiness. This is because individuals are exposed to a much wider range of people than they would be in real life and can easily fall into the trap of comparing themselves unfavorably with those who appear to be doing better.

In addition, the constant bombardment of negative news and images can cause people to have a skewed view of reality which can further contribute to their unhappiness.

Various research has found a positive impact of reducing the amount of time spent on social media on well-being and overall mental health. However, it might not be easy for some people that have become accustomed to using social media in their daily lives to just completely quit and might cause other problems.

Why quitting social media may not make you happier either?

If you often find yourself scrolling through social media feeds and losing track of time, it might be a sign that you may benefit from quitting social media. While it can be a difficult decision to make, it can also be one of the most rewarding. 

In terms of social connection, quitting social media can increase meaningful interactions with close friends and relational partners as closer relationships benefit from increased contact outside of social media. It also helps reduce the tendency to make inaccurate social comparisons with others.

People often feel pressured to appear as their best selves on social media, affecting their happiness as they are constantly comparing themselves to others. Quitting social media can help them break free from this cycle. It can make people happier by allowing them to focus on more meaningful aspects of life, such as spending time with family and friends or pursuing hobbies. 

Quitting social media can be beneficial, although it might not work for everyone. Some people may find that they still struggle with feelings of loneliness or envy even after quitting. In this case, different strategies may need to be explored for them to have a positive impact and help you feel happier.

Additionally, quitting won’t work if people only do it for a short period as the effects will only be temporary. It is important to take the time to reflect on why you are using social media in the first place and make changes accordingly to make it a permanent solution 

What to do if social media makes you feel unhappy?

Social media can be a great way to stay connected with friends and family, but it can also become an unhealthy habit. Too much time on social media can lead to feelings of unhappiness and disconnection from the real world. Fortunately, there are strategies that you can use to keep yourself from being overwhelmed by it. 

Be mindful of your habit

As you become aware of different patterns and habits of when and where you tend to access social media, try to identify what brings positive experiences while using social media, and what kind of information affects you negatively.  

Social media use can be a habitual activity that people do mindlessly. Therefore, it is easy to be distracted and try to focus on one stimulus at a time. Individuals might lose sight of their intention of using social media and get caught in an endless loop of distractions. 

One simple practice to avoid this is by setting your intentions and expectations before opening your social media accounts. This helps challenge yourself, whether the intention is to distract yourself from the present or connect with others on the platform.

Another important thing is to recognize when it is time to take a break from social media and focus on other activities that bring you joy. By being mindful of your social media use pattern, you can evaluate and ensure that it remains beneficial and not harmful to your mental health. 

Set time limits

Setting limits on how much time is spent on social media is key to finding a good balance. It is important to set boundaries around how much time you spend online so that you can make sure that you are not sacrificing your happiness for the sake of staying connected with friends and family on online social networks. 

By limiting social media use and trying to live in the moment, you might find that making genuine, meaningful interactions with people around you can also be very rewarding. 

Limiting social media does not mean that you have to quit all online interactions, but you can start small by setting aside a few minutes to allow yourself access to social media during your free time or have a specific timeframe to make sure it does not distract from achieving your goals and daily activities in real life. 

Research shows that excessive use of social media can lead people to have less satisfying and more negative experiences in their daily lives. People who use social media for a long period may feel more lonely, frustrated, and anxious. This is due to a subconscious association between social comparison and self-esteem that triggers negative thoughts. 

For example, someone might seek others’ approval on his or her attractiveness, and when the feedback is not as expected, perhaps not enough likes, it can lead to a decrease in self-esteem and cause them to feel unhappy.

It’s easy to get caught up in the constant notifications and updates, but taking a step back and limiting how much time you spend online can help improve your happiness and well-being. You can start small by allocating specific time in which you allow yourself to use social media and setting a purpose for each time you access it. 

Change your perspective 

The sheer amount of information that people get from social media can sometimes lead to an overwhelming feeling or constant comparison to others. One way to tackle this is by trying to change your perspective as there are always different sides to the story. When you scroll through social media, you can choose how you react to it.

Other than being mindful and keeping in mind that what you see on social media might not always reflect reality, you can choose to see things from a positive point of view and be happy for your friend’s achievements or other exciting news from others instead of endlessly comparing yourself which might make you envious or unhappy in the long run. 

In conclusion

Social media has become a major part of today’s lives, and it can be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it has the potential to make us feel connected and happy by providing an outlet for self-expression, connection with friends, and access to information. 

On the other hand, it can be overwhelming due to the sheer amount of information available, and can also lead to distraction from important tasks. 

However you choose to integrate social media into your daily life, make sure it does not do more harm than good to your happiness and well-being. The key is to find a balance between using social media and experiencing real life, making sure that your happiness is not too dependent on the interactions you have with others on social media, and being mindful of your social media use patterns.

If you would like to know more about online social networks, check out the Happiness Science Labs. The lab uses the research of the Institute for Life Management Science to produce courses, certifications, podcasts, videos, and other learning materials. Visit the Happiness Science Labs today.

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Photo by Nishant Das on Pexels

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