We all use it every day. It is everywhere we go. All our friends, favorite artists and brands use Social Media. You check your messages, stay in touch with everyone you care about, and some, especially teenagers and kids, wonder how people spent their time before these networks were created. But does it make our lives really better? Does Social Media make us happy?
According to GlobalWebIntex, that polled 170,000 internet users about their habits in the World Wide Web, the average user spends about 1.72 hours every day on social platforms. This makes 28 % of the whole online activity. Back in 2013 the average time was 1.66 hours, so it slightly increased.
But does the time we spend online really make us happier? There are studies that say it does, others say it makes people sad, or that it can even drive them crazy when they spend too much time online. Fact is, it is part of our lives and overall it’s how it’s used and what every individual makes out of it. Being not online at all, can make you feel lonely. But spending too much time online, can make you live less in the real world, which can cause isolation.
Getting likes on Social Media like on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr or Twitter, can release dopamine, a brain chemical associated with pleasure. Imagine you are the only one among your friends who isn’t using social media. I often heard that many say they think they miss something when they don’t check their messages quite often.
But time can rush by very quickly, because so many people share thousands of pictures and messages every minute. Like on Instagram: more than 50 % of teenagers (age 13 – 17) and young adults (age 18 – 29) use the photo sharing network. They all want likes and do not always post what’s actually worth sharing. About 80 million pictures are uploaded every day; selfies, food, animals, memes, fave artists or their iTunes playlist. (If you wanna know more about what else is shared quite often but doesn’t make a good impression when posted too often, you can click on this website.)
Staying in touch with everyone you care about can make you happier, because you feel being part of their lives without the need to see them in person – which is often not possible due to work or living abroad. You also have the chance to show them what happens in your real life.
Here’s how I feel about it: I love to actually capture the moment, share my thoughts with everyone out there – or at least the few guys who read them on Twitter or see my pictures on Instagram. I don’t have a specific topic, I just share what feels right in the moment, what I am doing, who I support or what I like. I post about twice a week, three times tops. It feels good to tell the world what’s on my mind. I mostly do this on Twitter. It makes me feel better, and maybe there is someone out there who agrees with me and we can start a conversation. I also never wanted to pretend to be someone else online or stay anonymous having “just” a fan account. As much as I love it, sometimes I like to put my phone down for some hours. It’s also muted after 12 am, so only emergency calls can reach me until 8 am. I love to get whatsapp messages, I disabled any other notifications anyway, but in the night I actually prefer to sleep.
When it comes to kids, it often seems to me that they always need their phones. Even when they sit together at a table in a restaurant, they prefer to type something into their phones than actually talking to each other. A study from Stanford showed that girls in the age of 8 – 12, who spend considerably much time on the Internet, feel less happy about their lives. Mostly they focus on others more than on themselves, and feel more socially uncomfortable to talk to others in person, than peers who spend less time in front of a screen.
So to sum it up, Social Media can make you happy when it’s an addition to your life and not a replacement. It makes you feel bad, when you spend more time online or care more about your online friends, and focus on strangers’ lives instead of your own. But what definitely makes happy is a hug, or a virtual hug. Everyone who needs or wants to share one, can go to The nicest place on the Internet.