How Facebook steals our happiness

4 min read
7 August 2018

Sometimes we write not only about making business on social media but also about business makers themselves. In other words - about people. This article is one of those that will not help you get more likes but will give you a reason for thinking of something more pressing.

Have you ever noticed that you do not always feel good looking through your Facebook feed, and photos of beaches, luxurious parties, family dinners and receptions annoy you? How does it happen so that all the people around you live so happily while you only work waiting for Saturday to sleep enough?

Peter Walschburger, a biopsychologist, tells about how such schemes work in Der Tagesspiegel magazine.

“Comparison is the end of happiness and the beginning of discontent” -, Søren Aabye Kierkegaard, Danish philosopher warned us. His French co-thinker, Charles de Montesquieu also knew what things are: “If only we wanted to be happy, it would be easy; but we want to be happier than other people, which is difficult since we think them happier than they are.”

Not long ago American psychologists from Stanford University, California also became concerned about the envy problem. According to them, test subjects considerably overestimated the level of their acquaintances’ life fulness and felt more depressed than even expected. It happened so because they compared the lifestyles of those people with their own ones.

Alas, Facebook and other social media not only make us closer to each other but also strengthen such the false impression. Thus, for example, according to scientists from Utah, those students who spent much time on Facebook more often said that their friends lived much better than they.

However, if you decide to analyze lots of posts on social media, you will notice that people share good news far more often and willingly than sad events, which they prefer to keep more in private. That’s why, in fact, envy is often based on imagined facts and false ideas.

Nevertheless, Walschburger thinks that there is nothing negative about envy itself. In the view of evolution, it plays almost a crucial role in making us persevere to become better and helping us understand how we define success.

The feeling of inferiority leads to self-perfection, but the Internet has messed it all up. If we used to keep up with our comrades (who were mostly as gifted as we were), now when due to the Internet we always see different people’s success, our expectations become unreachable and pursuits –impossible.

For example, here is a typical post on the feed of your suggested friend: “Who can recommend a good hotel in Mexico?” The post reminds us of the vacation time making us think of other countries and adventures. But the friend did n’t mention that the flight to Mexico was long-term and boring, so we do not even think of this fact. His journey is pictured in our head without any routine or difficulties.

The picture is the brighter, the farther our Facebook friends are from our lives and real acquaintances. The research proves that those who have many friends in social media (and they have never met such friends in real life) more often feel that other people live better. The worst consequences of the situation are that a person gets a distorted image and becomes depressed. How can you enjoy a simple party while other people fly from one resort to another? How can’t you get upset when your child is crying all days long while you see your friends’ children happy, pleased and healthy in the pictures on the Internet.

Sounds familiar to you? Don’t despair. As usual, we have good news for you: young people are more likely to envy for such things. and the older you get, the less you feel inferior to others - envy gives way to separate your own and other people’s values. Young people looking for their anchor in life and a possibility to separate from their parents are very dependent from other people’s estimation, and it’s quite logical that they try to get to perfection as close as possible.

Nor we, neither psychologists have a secret of throwing away such negative thoughts so far, but if you are tired of permanent competition and comparing, you do not need to wait for getting old to feel at ease finally. Catch yourself feeling envious, stop for a while, and think whose post hurt you and why. If you want something that the person already has, try to derive benefits of your envy (remember the evolution!) and think what possible steps you can take to move closer to your goal. If you feel worse than that person, remember that you have your own unique strengths which someone else is envy for, and being successful does not mean being perfect and the best at everything.

And yes! You can just download an extension for clearing your feed. All your feed.