I’ve read many studies that suggest that social media makes people less focused and unhappy.
Researchers usually are unable to explain why but some of the theories they hazard are around the fact that:
– virtual relationships are not as warm and fuzzy as ‘real’ ones
– fear of missing out accentuates our natural envious ‘the grass is greener’ unhappiness
– the speed at which your streams get new content makes your mind jump from one topic to the next and leaves you unable to concentrate.
As someone who can be moody and never enjoyed the telephone, I have developed warm, fuzzy relationships with many people purely thanks to social networks. Because I decide when I engage and what I read, I’m able to stay away from humans on my werewolf days, and be a (hopefully) supportive friends when I have the energy. It’s also easier for me to share my emotions in my facebook status than to vocalize them aloud, and I must say that looking for the right word to describe how I feel at this moment has helped me get more in touch my emotions.
The fear of missing out aspect is an interesting one. I make a conscious effort to only share positive or constructive, debatable facts and opinions on social networks. This is on one hand because I don’t want my web history to show a life of grumpy posts, but also because I think there aren’t enough positive news facts or comments in my life. I want my stream to be a source of happiness for those who chose to friend or follow me. And by forcing myself to find the positive for my facebook friends, I find the positive all around me. And I realize that I’m continuously practicing gratefulness and mindfulness. The sunrise this morning, which on a busy day like today I would have ignored, became something beautiful enough for me to spend a few min to share with my posse. I find myself thinking less negative thoughts and finding the beauty and pleasure in all the little things.
So facebook has made me a happier person.
On the last aspect – concentration – well, I do have the attention span of a goldfish, but maybe jumping from one happy topic to one brilliant idea to one interesting article is not the worse way to live, is it?