How Facebook Has Royally Screwed With Our Happiness Meter

I have a bit of an obsession with happiness – what causes it, what makes it stick, what can obliterate it all together. Perhaps this is the reason why I have an urge to ask complete strangers whether or not they are completely and totally happy with their lives. Because let’s face it – most people aren’t, and most have perfected the art of hiding it.

Why hide it? Well because happiness has become a measurement of success of sorts, a real indication of how well you’ve been at living. Hate your job? Can’t stand your spouse? Then by god, what have you been doing with your life? Not being happy is a sure sign that you just don’t have your shit together – or so we have come to believe.

It’s also a pretty damn good way to measure ourselves against those around us. If, for instance, your relationship is bobbing like a half-dead fish in the water when your BFF calls you up to let you know how her new beau bought her a ridiculously disgusting spread of exotic flowers – well, then chances are you’ll be feeling a bit like a failure. And how can you possibly compete with those people who seem to be thrilled with the idea of waking up in the morning, have their calendar filled to the brim with exciting happenings, are enthralled with how perfect their families are, and have prince charming to share their magnificence with?

Those people exist, right? Well, according to Facebook they do.

I’ll admit it. I’m a bit of a Facebook whore. In fact, I probably spend more time Facebook stalking than attempting to find a decent paying freelance job. However, that simply makes me an expert of sorts (because I like thinking of myself as an expert). Which has led me to notice a few things:

There are two types of Facebook personalities:

  • The type that always has something utterly depressing to say and will passive aggressively attack those who have “wronged” them (the ones you want to block from your news feed or just punch in the face).
  • And the type that always has some exciting weekend to look forward to, the perfect partner to gush about, and the most amazing job they could have ever hoped for – you know, the perpetually happy type.

So one day I, in my unhealthy obsession with dissecting happiness into little manageable bits, discovered that Facebook had given me the sense that a huge portion of my peers (some 400+ of them) were far happier than me (minus the Debbie Downers, of course). It was obvious after browsing through thousands of pictures of smiling faces and sorting through status updates, each with the underlying message of: “Look at me and my fabulous life!”

Funny thing is, I have those pictures too. And I’ll admit to writing one or two status updates that boasted of something I have had to be happy about – because each of us chooses the side of ourselves we wish to show and the parts of our lives we want others to admire.

That is the reason why Facebook has royally screwed us over. All those people whose profiles tell us they have their shit together? They have bad days too – they just don’t take pictures of it and plaster it all over for the world to see.

Facebook is our way of entertaining each other and should be taken as nothing more. That’s just a little hard to remember when you are sleeping on your parents couch and brooding over the fact that your life seems to have veered off into a ditch. I’m just sayin’.

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6 responses

  1. So so true…..I hang on my Mom’s couch too Kayla…..Lets find a random couch to drink wine on together. We can even take pictures and make other people jealous!!

  2. God I would never post pics of my bad day. I totally agree. I just make sure i only post on my good days. I don’t mean to but that is how it just works out. I don’t have anything to share when I am not in the best mood. I do tell it like it is though when I am not feeling well or whatever. Sometimes I just have to tell someone. Even if it is just the Facebook world. Just saying… Love you girl!

  3. You brought to my attention a primordial fact: people have created synthetic happiness.

    They’ll call their families ‘amazing’ because most people do; if you stop them in their tracks for 3 minutes, and ask them scrutinizing questions about their families, they’ll soon realize the latter aren’t as amazing as they have been made to believe/say.

    The same applies to partners. Is it any wonder every celebrity who claimed their spouse was ‘the best’ ended up divorcing them soon afterwards?

    While happiness remains a choice and the result of major life de-cluttering, no one should strive to pretend they’re happy just because that’s what everybody does. It looking good on Facebook won’t make us truly happy.

    We’re made of changing chemicals that affect our moods. So, enough fronting.

    Interesting content, girl. At least, you keep it real.

  4. I love how well you articulate some of my jumbled up emotions and thoughts so clearly on paper. I really love the direct nature and yet calmness you exude in your posts. thanks for sharing!

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