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Does Facebook (et al) Make you Happy?


How often do you check your Facebook account? Or Twitter, Instagram, Google+, or any of the plethora of social media networks around? Do you rely on them for affirmation and a sense of belonging? Isn't that what keeps us going back for more? So do we rely on our social media networks for the way they make us feel?

Now don't get me wrong. I love Facebook, it allows me to stay connected with friends and family who live far and wide. I dabble in Twitter because it's a soap box from which I can air my views in a slightly more anonymous way and I play devil's advocate without fear of offending someone I care about and of course I blog, which allows me to mull over many a subject and interact with lovely people like you - whom I've never met and am unlikely to but for some reason you read my ramblings, for which I'm very grateful.

Recently we discovered that Facebook manipulated news feeds to assess the effects on the emotions of its users. The details of the experiment were published in an article entitled "Experimental Evidence Of Massive-Scale Emotional Contagion Through Social Networks" published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. With the results suggesting that "emotions expressed by others on Facebook influence our own emotions". The ethics of this research is in question because it was conducted without the knowledge of the "guinea pigs" but it seems the findings are correct, the general mood of your news feed can have an impact on the way you feel.

I'm writing this on the morning we discovered that Robin Williams has died. My news feed is full of statuses expressing sadness and disbelief at his death with lots of shares of news reports and pictures of him as various characters from his films. There's a real sadness amongst my friends, who, like me, have grown up with him on our screens and we all seem to feel a genuine sense of loss. Personally I tried to keep my status light this morning "Nanu Nanu, Shazbot! RIP Robin Williams, thanks for all the laughs and for creating a new nickname for me." Because despite the sadness of his loss and thoughts of his family and friends, he brought a lot of fun and happiness to our lives. I loved Mork & Mindy as a youngster growing up and quickly became known as Shazbot rather than Shaz or Shazza and that's what I'd prefer to remember.

So does that make me a spreader of joy, rather than one of gloom? I have friends who only seem to post when they're angry or miserable, their statuses make me sad and as a consequence I flick past them quickly in my news feed. I have other friends who are uber positive and share only happy and (sometimes sickly) sweet posts, but they do make me smile. I like to think I'm a happy balance between the two. I do try to think before I post anything negative – as mentioned above, I use Twitter as my controversial soap box – and perhaps I share a little too much of my happy stuff. I posted lots of photos of our recent holiday for our son's grandmother to see back at home and got moaned at by a few friends for clogging up their news feeds, but I'd rather do that than fill it with doom and gloom!

You may have noticed a recent trend on Facebook where people are nominated to share 3 positive things that have happened at the end of each day for seven days. We love this as it fosters a sense of gratitude as mentioned in our earlier blogs and leads to a greater sense of happiness and wellbeing in your life.

My 3 favourite things about Facebook are:

1. It helps you keep in touch with family and friends all around the world who wouldn't otherwise know what was happening in your day to day life and vice versa.

2. It's a source of information and fun – it's how I learned about Robin Williams death and often makes me laugh at comments, videos and shared photos/quotes etc.

3. It has kept me linked to the "real" world as the parent of a young baby up to now with a 4.5 year old. Parents of young children don't have much of a social life, so it's a way of living it vicariously!

What are your three favourite things about Facebook, or other social networks? Tell us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and we might just write a follow up blog using the best ones.

Well being


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