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:
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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