Facebook Makes Us Miserable
A recent paper in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin looks at a series of studies involving how people evaluate moods—their own and those of others. The study itself is not as interesting as the implications. What the study found is that people tend to underestimate how dejected other people feel and that this in turn increases a person’s own sense of unhappiness. Put otherwise, we all believe that others have better lives than we do and this makes us feel bad about ourselves. That’s strangely significant.
Where do we find this phenomenon in clearest form? On Facebook, of course. We log on to Facebook, look through the photographs and status messages our friends post, and believe that everyone is happier and more successful than we are. And when I have spoken to friends and family members who have considered giving up Facebook, this is exactly the reasoning they have given. They look at other people and feel miserable in comparison.
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I remember Del saying in a message a few years ago, "We always lose the comparison game with others: because when we compare ourselves to others, we know 100% about ourselves (our faults, shortcomings, etc...) and know only 10% about others. This serves to only intensify our feelings that we don't measure up." (I loosely paraphrase.) He, and Challies, and the authors of the study are absolutely right.
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