Does Social Media Make Us Happy

“Anybody who says money doesn’t buy happiness should go talk to somebody living under a bridge. But, anybody who says money buys happiness should go talk to Bill Gates, neither statement is correct”

A great quote from PhD, and author of “Stumbling on Happiness”, Daniel Gilber

Social Media Makes Me Happy
photo credit: LugoLounge via photopin cc

With so many social media outlets these days, it seems almost every section of the population is exploring the social space in one way or another. Whether you are developing strategy for a Facebook campaign, or planning your wedding on Pinterest, or even learning how to cook Italian on a Google Plus Hangout show, it seems there is something for everybody somewhere in the social space. But the question being asked often is, do we derive happiness from time spent in the social space?

Joy Comes From Human Connection

We know this to be true, there are many studies about brain activity that occurs while engaging in human interaction. However many a time the question is asked, does a digital human connection count the same as IRL (in real life)? Is a digital human connection made through a social media channel even really considered a “human connection”. The answer will most likely be different depending on the person being asked. Someone from Net Gen (the generation growing up today) would probably say “YES”, by all means. They are living a much more in depth digital life, their generation has been  immersed in the digital, social media world from day one, so the concept of achieving a meaningful online connection is not so foreign. However if you ask someone from say the baby boomer generation, you might get a different answer. Their experiences growing up in the counter culture with a huge emphasis on spiritual connection might bring them to a different conclusion.

Are the Intrinsic Goals the Same Online and Off

After examining and categorizing some of the intrinsic goals that we pursue in life, it becomes clear that those goals are pretty much the same when applied to the social space.

Extrinsic goals can be broken down into three categories:

Money, Image, Status – all three are openly present IRL, yet are strikingly the same when looking at the social space. Long before the birth of the internet and the social media onslaught that followed, money, status, and image were all very important considerations and goals within the business and social environments. The introduction of social media has done nothing but exaggerate and inflate those goals to new levels of “success”, and “excess”.

But what about those Intrinsic values and goals.

Intrinsic goals can best be broken down into Personal growth, relationships, and a desire to help.

All three of these are very apparent in the social space, and yet 30 years ago these were all active ingredients in the human condition. Again it appears that with the vast array of information available, these values are pursued on a larger scale, and results are expected on a larger scale as well. But has this ocean of content, available in a moments notice, set our expectations too high? Have we reached a point where we are “pushing” too hard, expecting too much?

Karoshi… Toxic Death

Karoshi, or toxic death as it is often referred to, is a term used in the Japanese culture. Japan is struggling with this “disease” on an alarming scale. The major medical causes of karoshi deaths are heart attack and stroke due to stress. The Japanese actually accept this form of death as a byproduct of the business culture, even providing benefits for the “victims” families. Do you know people in your own social circles that are working at Karoshi levels? Is the social space with it’s 24/7 online demands playing a role in those work environment demands?  Have we reached the tipping point; is the pendulum swinging in the other direction? For some yes. In fact the Asian county of Bhutan has addressed the problem on a national scale. They have replaced the push for GNP with a new campaign, GNH (gross national happiness). They are addressing  their populations complete wellness in seven major area’s, with the goal being a balanced life.

  1. Economic Wellness
  2. Environmental Wellness
  3. Physical Wellness
  4. Mental Wellness
  5. Workplace Wellness
  6. Social Wellness
  7. Political Wellness

Are you feeling healthy in all these area’s?

You and Your Social Community

In the end it comes down to you and your community. It has become clear that the power of the internet is indeed just that… powerful. Whether your goals are intrinsic, or extrinsic, results can be achieved on a colossal scale. Those achievements are made possible by the power of connection, the human connection, and yes it is very possible to develop deep, meaningful relationships within the social space. It appears that this new fangled social space is heading in a healthy direction, ever changing, broadening it’s own scope and focus. Our culture is realizing that once you care more about your social community, and less about your own social status, you become a better social community member.

What are you seeing in social space explorations? Do you have concerns where things are headed, do you see positive responses to negative behaviors?

Gerry Michaels
Gerry Michaels (Gettysburg Gerry) is Principal at Glasswork Media Arts, Radio host SteamFeed Radio on Blogtalkradio, VP Marketing Biz Dev at, Social Media Columnist for the Gettysburg Times, Social Media strategist and community builder and explorer. I am no different than you, no better/worse. I'm an astronaut exploring this social media space. Fully engulfed in the world that is Social Media, I awake every day anxiously anticipating what the days new technology will bring. Find me on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Google Plus, Pinterest. Feel free to contact me with any questions.

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