Why Social Media Makes Me Happy

According to a recent study, Facebook makes people unhappy. Some say that everyone else on Facebook and Twitter seems to be having a wonderful time which makes their own life seem rather drab in comparison. Others report trouble concentrating or struggle with FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out).

When I use social media to compare myself with others, it can make me unhappy too–someone else is always looking happier and healthier, surrounded by their beautiful family, having just published a best seller and single-handedly hosted 22 people for the most fabulous gourmet dinner the day after returning home from an equally fabulous vacation in Maui. “Comparisons are odious,” wrote Christopher Marlowe among others, and when social media leads to comparing and competing with others, it’s no wonder it makes people unhappy.

That’s one reason I take a social media sabbath each week. A deliberate break disrupts my daily habit and helps to moderate any addictive tendencies. It puts a limit on that constant urge to see what’s going on, and reminds me not to get caught up in the endless loop of comparing myself with others and feeling bad when I don’t measure up.

And yet I’m not ready to give up social media completely, because when I use it well I find that social media actually adds to my happiness quotient. Why does social media make me happy? Exactly because it’s social–because it’s allowed me to make new friends; to connect with readers, writers, and others who share common interests; to find new opportunities for writing like my current book project; to find and receive mutual encouragement and support.

I’ve written before about the writing community I’ve found with MennoNerds, RevGalBlogPals, Christian Century Bloggers, and the BibleGateway Blogger Grid. Today I’m pleased to share that I’ve joined another community of writers in the Redbud Writers Guild. I had connected with several Redbud writers on Twitter already, but didn’t know much about the group until I was encouraged to consider joining. That’s when I discovered the Redbud vision:

We envision
a vibrant and diverse movement of women
who create in community and who influence culture and faith.

Wow, now that vision makes me happy!


Writing/Reflection Prompt: In what ways does social media make you happy or unhappy? What online groups do you value, and why?


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6 thoughts on “Why Social Media Makes Me Happy

  1. Thanks, April. I know nothing about blogging nor about HTML but I find that very often I want to click on your links. When I click on the links above, however, I am taken away from this page and, for the external links am taken off your blog completely. If the links were to open in a new tab I would see more of your good stuff and the stuff you are pointing to. Is that feasible? easy? in keeping with blogging convention and etiquette? Thanks.

    1. Hi Craig – I’m so glad you noticed and mentioned this, as I’ve now changed the links on this page so they’ll open in a new window. On my end, it’s a small adjustment that I can make when creating my post, and I think that it will be more convenient for readers who won’t have to keep going back and forth. If anyone has a reason why it shouldn’t be done this way, please let me know; otherwise, I’ll have all links open in a new window in future. Thanks for asking, Craig!

  2. Just shared this great post on Twitter, April. Hope to find other ways to engage with you and others on this important subject. I read the mission statement of the Redbud Writers Guild, and I love it.

    I also appreciate your approach to social media in general. I agree that the overall impact is positive, but that’s only when I actively monitor time spent, sabbaticals, and whether or not I am being a “good citizen,” generous with sharing other people’s good news and wisdom.

    Thanks for helping all of us do the same. And for showing us how it can be done!

    1. Thanks, Shirley – I love seeing the generous way you engage with others on social media and how you’ve created a community who follow and regularly interact on your blog. I’m learning a lot from you! I agree that monitoring the time spent is key, as social media can be so overwhelming. Besides my weekly social meda sabbath, I also intentionally limit my involvement to a few areas and ignore others, so haven’t gone into vlogging, Instagram, Periscope, or some of the other great options. I might make a different decision some day, but for now I think I have more than enough!

  3. I have loved, LOVED re-establishing contact with friends from elementary school, high school, and college. Recently I connected with a woman I only knew my senior year of high school, but even from a distance, getting to know what matters to her and seeing her connections makes me very happy! The thing with social media is that not all of my old friends use Facebook or Twitter very much–(my two BEST friends from high school and elementary school for instance just don’t get on Facebook very often) so I’m connecting with those who do enjoy using it. I would have to ponder why these online relationships mean as much as they do. The shared experiences from the past and seeing how 40-60 years later we still have many things in common and where our paths have taken us?? It makes me feel more whole. Or something!! A one day sabbatical sounds very sane. I’ll have to ponder whether that’s for me too!

    1. I love hearing how you’ve been re-connecting with friends, Melody! I find that social media extends my reach as I re-connect with old friends, make new ones, and am able to keep in touch with people who live at a distance that I may not often get to see in person. At the same time, a regular social media sabbath functions to remind me of my priority to be present where I am–not just during that sabbath time when I’m deliberately off-line, but it helps give me perspective during the rest of the week too. If you decide that a social media sabbath is for you, I hope you’ll write about that–and ironically, share on social media!–as I’d love to hear about that too!

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