July 29, 2021

Science Explains – How Facebook Makes You Happy

Social media is everyone’s ‘newfound love’! It is a virtual world that has become an integral part of our lives. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn have billions of users across the globe, but the trend of social media picked up the pace with Facebook.

There are around 2.80 billion active Facebook users (February 2021), and of these, 1.84 billion users actively visit their profile to connect, share information, comment, and grow Facebook likes.  A platform that started with the aim of helping people stay connected with family and friends and share memories has evolved into a full-fledged platform to promote business, find new friends, learn new skills, join communities and so much more. Studies have shown that using Facebook can impact mental health positively and make us happy.

Different things Facebook enables you to do 

  • Find new friends and like-minded people
  • Communicate with friends and family on a regular basis
  • Seek support during emotionally turbulent times.
  • Seek opinions and guidance.
  • Spread awareness on important issues.
  • Share your self-expression and creativity.
  • Get valuable information and learn.
  • Find vital connections for the business.

What do Studies on Facebook reveal?

While people have qualms about using Facebook, studies reveal the positive impact of Facebook in our lives. According to James Fowler, a professor at the University of California, San Diego, social networking sites like Facebook are a “positive thing” for our emotional wellbeing.

This is mainly because emotions spread over Facebook. Also, the studies showed the case of two friends where one was feeling negative and one positive, and even though they lived far away, they had an impact on their emotions. When a “happy friend” shared the reason for his happiness over Facebook, the other friend felt a little positive knowing it. Also, he showed some positive views on it too.

The study showed each additional positive post reduced the negative posts by two times, while each negative post lowered the positive posts by 1.3 times. Thus, Fowler said Facebook gave out more positive feelings.

The Researchers from Michigan State University have also concluded that the use of social media can prevent negative emotions like anxiety and depression.  According to Keith Hampton who is a professor at MSU Facebook helps older Americans to be in touch with family and friends and also stay abreast with useful information. Researchers gathered data from over 13K as part of the household survey. The questions were about the use of the Internet and how it impacted psychology. The result revealed that social media users have fewer chances of feeling anxiety or depression.

According to another interesting study, dopamine which is a happy hormone released by the brain encourages us to seek, desire, and search. When people are on Facebook or any social media site, dopamine is stimulated, and it becomes difficult to resist posting or sharing. Similarly, the level of hormone Oxytocin,  popularly known as the cuddle chemical, has also increased by 13% after spending just 10 minutes on social media.

How Facebook impacts our lives?

We are social creatures. Thus, we need to be social, i.e. connect with others, talk to friends, and have good company to stay happy. Our social life impacts the state of our mental health and happiness. Being socially connected with friends eases us from the feeling of depression, anxiety, and stress, inducing a sense of joy, comfort, and self-worth. On the contrary, lacking social connection can result in mental stress and feelings of depression and loneliness.

In fact, today, most people rely on platforms like Facebook to find out about their friends. In other words, it serves them as a medium of connection. But this does not mean it replaces real human connection. Moreover, when a person is in contact with others, they trigger the hormones of happiness and positivity.

However, we cannot undermine that sometimes, the use of Facebook can make you feel isolated and lonely, resulting in depression and anxiety especially when we see people holidaying when we are busy with work or when known people flaunt their expensive buys like swanky cars or houses. So, it is important to watch our thoughts when we spend time on Facebook. But considering the numerous positives, the importance of Facebook is going to stay. Let’s focus on the positive impacts.

Let’s assess in detail how Facebook is impacting our mental health positively:

  •   Spreads happiness through engaging in activities

How many times have you felt low or depressed and ended up scrolling your Facebook account? Facebook is a platform where people can connect socially and engage in helpful and kind activities, which eventually help in boosting mental well-being. For instance, through Facebook, we can express all kinds of emotions like gratitude, best wishes, support, appreciation, and more. According to a recent study, they found that young people with depressive symptoms feel happy and elated after using Facebook or surfing on social media platforms. They can express their feelings using creativity and get inspired by others and feel less lonely. Since Facebook gives them the liberty to share their opinions and views, and once they see the likes of their posts grow, it infuses a sense of happiness.

  •   Introduce new goals and habits

Using Facebook has given access to different communities; you can choose the right community based on your interest and preferences. For example, if you are keen on fitness and well-being, you can join the related community; if you are keen on traveling, you can join the travel community. Connecting with people of the same preferences will keep you engaged and also inspire you. You can also learn about different cultures and skills by joining such communities.

  •   Actively stay in touch with your community

Even though it is true that sometimes not getting likes or engagement can make people feel sad; but people who are using Facebook for a long time and are more active do not feel that way. They tend to have lower negative feelings. With time you get more likes, social support, feedback, and other engagement contributing to elevating depression symptoms.

Thus, scientists suggest that engaging online can be good for us because the social connection we build on this platform gives us social connectivity. This had especially helped people in the times of pandemic when everyone was trapped in their house, and it was through these social media platforms that people stayed connected; it kept them engaged and motivated and strengthened the bonds.

Wrapping it up !!!

Well, the pros and cons of using Facebook are evident; while there are negatives, but the positive aspects are way higher. There are times when people feel lonely or shy away from expressing themselves in face-to-face interaction. In such cases, platforms like Facebook have proven to be very much effective. If we are thinking of how we must use Facebook and the amount of time we spend on it, it can make us happy.

About the author 

Peter Hatch

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