Monday, January 30, 2012

Does Facebook Make People Less Happy?

Social Networking has become very popular these days. Once signed onto a social network, having answered a few basic profile questions, it is easy to sit back and wonder what you are supposed to do next. The easiest way to understand social networking is to think of it like when you're in high school. You had friends in school, and you knew quite a few people even if you weren't friends with all of them, but it's likely that you didn't know everyone. If you moved to a new school, you start out with no friends. After attending classes, you start meeting people, and as you meet them, you begin associating with those that have similar interests.

Can you mention what's hot with this kind of social networking? You may find your old friends, your soul mate, you mention. And sadly you're trained to be a stalker.

Social networking is all the rage these days, but many people still don't understand what all the fuss is all about. From the outside looking in, it would seem that online social networking is all about spending a lot of time doing nothing. But once you understand that a social network is as much of a place as it is an activity. Networking activity.

The difficulty most people have in understanding online social networking is that they view website as having a specific purpose, like for news, for videos, for photos. But social networks like MySpace and Facebook don't provide a specific use so much as they provide you with a home on the web.

It hasn't taken long for Facebook to become the most popular social network on the planet. With the multitude of Facebook applications extending its use and the ease of Facebook Connect to use as a login for various websites, Facebook has become our home on the web.

Why are you Facebook-ing? Let me point out some of the reasons:

  • Facebook is your online photo album
  • Facebook for fun, games, and more
  • Facebook for business
  • Facebook for finding old friend
  • Facebook for stalking you imaginary soul mate (okay this point is so random, never mind)

Another question came up in my mind that does Facebook make you happier? As a happy human being?

Recently, I found a study that suggests looking at Facebook can make you less happy. It seems we are less likely to report ourselves unhappy on Facebook and the more time we spend on Facebook, the more we perceive other people are happier than us (The theory is that this is on the basis of the very cheerful photos Facebookers choose to display). Bisa lagi cengir kuda, berpelukan dengan teman-teman, ciuman sama pacar, baru beres Europe Trip, you can mention :)

Some responses have pointed out that Facebook is used for many things other than posting party pics. There are groups or people with the personality of over-sharing that serve as lifelines to people with issues they need to share information about. For example, about the diseases, actual events, etc. And of course, it is obvious to anyone who uses it that Facebook isn't just for good news, it consists of serious drama both queen and king.

But I have not yet seen this response to the study yet. Why do we assume that our happiness ought to be premised on feeling happier than, superior to, better off than others?

From the perspective of traditional ethics, this is a completely misleading proposal. The compass is off.

Can you imagine how far that could take someone? You don't feel good about yourself because Lilian is doing better? We have to fix this! I hate Lilian! Get away from that Lilian! (Sorry it's so random, I don't know who Lilian is :P just picked one name) I hope I have missed some commentary that pointed out this bizarre complication of the worry about Facebook.

It can be frustrating to see so much new attention on happiness, and so little discussion of what it is. It is strange that we feel less than others because we read others' happier statutes.


When we feel better, "happier", because someone is doing worse than us, a sophisticated account of happiness ought to categorize this type of feeling. It just isn't the same as other experiences we have, that we (for lack of enough terms) count as happiness (or real happiness or lasting content, or better yet).

Anyway, overcoming feelings of jealousy, celebrating the goods of news of others, just, in general, sharing more, this is why I think Facebook is so great to make us less happier.

Picture is taken from here.
Credit to the owner. Thanks.