Is social media making us unhappy and leaving us dumb, depressed and rude ? Why is it necessary to step away from the screen once in a wh…


If we only wanted to be happy it would be easy; but we want to be happier than other people, which is almost always difficult, since we think them happier than they are.- Charles de Montesquieu, Pensées (1670/1991, p. 377)

Our perception of what other people’s lives are, is what put us to misery. Lets take a few situations as below and what impacts that these are causing:

Emotional Well Being:

Have other people’s awesome Facebook updates ever made you feel like a total loser? Or have you ever felt that your best friend’s or your mortal enemy’s life is all dandy and yours is nothing but struggle and anxiety? Has you wife or girlfriend shown pictures to you about her college friend and her husband taking world trips and you are reduced to watching TV at home? My friend you are not alone and if you’re feeling alone, you’re in good company. ridiculous as it may sound, the friends whom you envy may be envying you just as much!

In a stanford sponsored study: (Page on wordpress.com)

First, the researchers asked 63 college freshmen to report the positive and negative experiences they had had in the previous two weeks. Participants also reported on whether or not they were alone when they had these experiences, and whether they tried to bury the bad stuff. Researchers found that 29% of students’ bad experiences occurred in private, compared with 15% of the good ones. And 40% of the time, people deliberately concealed negative feelings.

That helps explain why other people always seem like they’re having so much fun — they generally tend to be happier in social settings, and they usually don’t dwell on feelings of loneliness or depression when they’re out in a group. In contrast, many of our negative emotions are experienced alone, so we’re the only ones who see ourselves at our loneliest and most depressed.

There are contradicting studies as well: A 2010 study from Carnegie Mellon found that, when people engaged in direct interaction with others—that is, posting on walls, messaging, or “liking” something—their feelings of bonding and general social capital increased, while their sense of loneliness decreased. But when participants simply consumed a lot of content passively, Facebook had the opposite effect, lowering their feelings of connection and increasing their sense of loneliness.

In an unrelated experiment from the University of Missouri, a group of psychologists found a physical manifestation of these same effects. As study participants interacted with a Social media site, four electrodes attached to the areas just above their eyebrows and just below their eyes recorded their facial expressions in a procedure known as facial electromyography. When the subjects were actively engaged with Facebook, their physiological response measured a significant uptick in happiness. When they were passively browsing, however, the positive effect disappeared.

In other words, the world of constant connectivity and media, as embodied in every study that distinguished the social media experiences—active versus passive—people spent, on average, far more time passively scrolling through newsfeeds than they did actively engaging with content, this is why studies, so often show deleterious effects on our emotional state. Demands on our attention lead us to use social media more passively than actively, and passive experiences, no matter the medium, translate to feelings of disconnection and boredom.

Intellectual Well Being:

People are getting dumber, or at least, they’re doing more poorly at school and on tests. Their cognition is worse than ever, their critical thinking skills are non-existent and their social skills… well, there really is no such thing as social skills anymore. Ironically, social media is to blame.

On average, students spend 12 hours every day participating in social media: tweeting, texting, using Facebook, checking in at Foursquare, wasting time on Pinterest and the list goes on. It’s an indisputable fact that a day has exactly 24 hours. Since  most people sleep an average of eight hours, that leaves  just four hours for everything else: eating, exercising, traveling from place to place… and where, exactly, does studying fit in? Apparently, it doesn’t.

To put the icing on the not-so-great-tasting technology cake, another recent study shows that Facebook makes people much ruder. In that study, a whopping 80% people reported that they experience more rudeness on social media as compared to face-to-face interactions. It’s no surprise, really, because interacting with screen instead of people also weakens our ability to be compassionate. In fact, studies show that today’s college students are 40% less empathetic than generations before them, and many psychologists and physicians say social media is to blame.
(http://gittefalkenberg.WordPress.com: Create a free website or blog/2013/03/10/generation-me-study-finds-college-students-lack-empathy/)

Conclusion:

The key to happiness here is to understand:   “Don’t compare your inside to someone else’s outside.” In other words, be aware that you can’t see what other people are really going through; the faces they present to the world may not accurately represent their true feelings.  In short, step away from the computer once in a while!

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