“Facebook Makes Us All Sad Because Everyone Is Happy But Us“
This headline was posted recently, at Psychology Today, and it really struck a chord with me.
Elana, from PT posted a fascinating article discussing the above headline, investigating the effect that other people’s Facebook updates and photos has on our happiness. It appears that the idealised view of our life that we choose to post on Facebook can actually make our friends feel bad about how their life is, in comparison.
I read into it some more, and found some really interesting material about it.
Switched.com describes a study into the Facebook effect:
“The January issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin includes a study by a PhD student at Stanford who investigated a two-fold phenomenon. First of all, we hand-pick our Facebook statuses and pictures to make us into the best versions of ourselves… Second, looking at the similarly idealized spread of our friends’ lives can make us depressed, simply because we tend to think that everyone is more happy than us…”
Your Facebook profile is your identity online, and it is a selectively edited identity. It’s essentially a showcase of your life, and most people don’t want it blemished with unhappiness. Most people are very reluctant to share their more negative thoughts and feelings on Facebook. It is for this reason that when scrolling through a friend’s Timeline you could be given the false impression that your life is inferior to theirs - they are always happy and having a great time - they never feel bad. Unlike you.
As Elana goes on to describe:
“I’ve noticed that I don’t usually post a status update when I have a bad day or a negative experience, or when I can’t spin my everyday existence into something a bit humorous. I’ve created a narrative that is untrue - so much so that when catching up with an old friend in person and sharing some of the less happy moments, she said, “I had no idea. You life looks so great on Facebook.””
And this is why this whole topic struck a chord with me. When Ross and I built MoodPanda we wanted to create a place for people to rate how their day had been, and how happy they are really feeling. MoodPanda isn’t a CV, or a showpiece to put your life up in lights, it’s more honest than that.
We are actively encouraging people to analyse and criticize their happiness, and be open with how they are truly feeling. On MoodPanda there is no pressure to edit your life. There is no need for you to keep up a pretense of happiness. Obviously some of our users don’t want their friends seeing how they feel, but do want to share how they’re feeling with someone, and that’s where our community fits in perfectly. A lot of our users report actually being happier now they have found MoodPanda for these reasons.
It’s clear that sharing your personal feelings can be a massive step in being happier about your life (even anonymously), but we’re also wondering if being able to see how a wider community is really feeling, unedited, could actually have an even more healing effect on our own happiness. Does seeing other people’s honest posts about their own happiness (and unhappiness) give us some perspective and reassurance? Is the grass really as green on the other side as Facebook would have you believe, or are your negative thoughts and crappy days actually entirely normal?
So. Could MoodPanda be the antidote to Facebook? Well obviously the two sites are different in their nature, and some of the attraction of Facebook is the shiny happiness you portray, but I hope that everyone could benefit from being part of a community where not everyone is always a smiling face; where you can say how you are really feeling, and share your life unedited.
In summary MoodPanda is a place where you can let go of the struggle to appear as happy as everyone else seems to on Facebook. Because life is not always shiny.
Posted by Jake, Co-Founder of MoodPanda.com
Image courtesy http://www.emzsquare.com/