Money is a powerful tool. The average person, however, does not use it very efficiently.
The same is true for social media profiles.
But while money is basically essential in order to survive, we can’t say the same about social media.
Am I saying you should delete all your social media profiles? No, not necessarily. But you need to be very aware of how you use it.
You also need to be aware that social media can affect your mental health in (negative) ways you can’t even imagine.
Is social media unhealthy?
Spoiler alert — in general, yes, it is. And in general, the cons of using social media are way more than the advantages.
In terms of physical health, it can be detrimental because you’re spending all this time in front of a screen, and your posture probably isn’t optimal, which leads to a whole bunch of other issues over time.
In terms of mental health, consider the following (this list is by no means complete):
- Decreased attention span
- Feelings of envy, jealousy, loneliness
- Detachment from reality
- Huge waste of time
- Huge distraction (e.g. notifications)
- Fear of missing out, anxiety
- Addiction (we’ll cover this in a minute)
Again, I am not suggesting social media is intrinsically bad. The question is, though: is it bad for you?
There is one simple way to find out…
Try a social media detox
In my article about energy vampires (people who drain your energy) I mentioned that the easiest way to spot one is to pay attention to your own feelings after you meet them.
If you tend to feel tired, unhappy, or even physically sick right after you’ve spent time with someone, it’s usually a red flag.
If you’re not sure, then simply stop seeing them for a while. After a week or so, pay attention to your feelings.
Do you feel calmer? Do you feel a sense of relief, liberation, or positivity that cannot be explained by anything else in particular? That’s a clear sign.
Now, this is a great analogy for what’s called a social media detox.
Not sure whether social media is a good or a bad thing (for you)? Then just go on a detox. A week, two weeks, a month. Then see how you feel after it.
Be in a situation where you do not have access to any of your profiles. No notifications, no news, no new messages or followers, etc. Unless it’s for work.
If you notice your mental health improves (or if you notice you are overall calmer and happier), it’s time to turn the detox into a habit.
Why people fake happiness on social media
Alright, this is what you’ve searched on Google. Or at least that’s the title of the article. So let’s get to the point.
Besides overusing social media, people tend to post pictures and videos that make them look really happy. Or glamorous. Or cool. Whatever word you want to use.
What’s worse is, these are almost always fake posts.
Not in the sense that the pictures have been edited, but in the sense that the happiness isn’t genuine. It’s kind of like seeing a fake smile in a commercial.
So, why do people do that? Here are my thoughts…
1. Living on autopilot
Human beings tend to emulate what others do, subconsciously. For the most part, this is a good thing (you don’t want to live in a society where people’s behavior is totally random).
The issue is when people copy behaviors or actions that don’t really add any value to their life.
At best, it’s a waste of time; at worst, it can be toxic, both mentally and physically.
A common example is someone who smokes simply because their close friends smoke. This person doesn’t know why or how they smoke, yet they do it.
When it comes to social media, I feel people have just gotten used to seeing the same kind of content. Fake happiness over and over again. Even when it’s obvious that it’s fake.
So after a while, they automatically do the same (post the same type of content).
Again, this concept could be applied to so many other things — the way we use money, the way we eat, our views and attitude, and so on.
If you resist the temptation to emulate those around you, you can grow in ways you probably can’t even imagine.
But for the sake of this post, for now, just think of social media and the way people use it, and see if you notice any patterns, and see if those patterns are a good or a bad thing.
2. Self esteem issues
When your sense of self-worth isn’t where it should be, you tend to base your worth on other people.
Meaning — what other people think of you, or what you think other people think of you.
That’s the irony: most of the time the people around us don’t really care, and don’t really judge us. It’s just our own perception.
Either way, someone with self esteem issues could use social media to somehow try and prove they have a great life, or a happy life.
So other people could think they do, and this, theoretically, would improve that person’s worth.
Someone who’s struggling with depression could still use social media to pretend everything’s okay; someone who’s unhappy about their relationship could still post pictures of a happy relationship. And so on.
It all originates from our obsession with other people’s thoughts and opinions of us — even when it’s all in our head.
And it’s not easy to simply ignore these thoughts. But the stronger your sense of self-worth, the easier it gets.
Everything and anything you post on social media cannot be deleted and could potentially be visible on the internet for decades.
You can, of course, delete a message or picture. But all it takes is a screenshot, or download, and you no longer have control over your own content.
Scary stuff. And most social media users are very aware of this. So they can choose to just not care, or choose what they post very carefully.
This can easily lead to perfectionism — treating your profiles as if they were an art gallery.
This means you’re not going to post anything that doesn’t look great, including your own emotions. And if you’re not happy, you may as well fake happiness.
Over time, this can become a habit, to the point where all content of someone’s profile may be fake.
But people don’t really know it’s fake. So then they assume that’s what normality looks like (on social media, and even in real life), and post the same content, and that creates a vicious cycle.
This is potentially the most dangerous one, at least in terms of one’s mental health and fulfillment in life.
One of the greatest risks of using social media compulsively is that over time you may tend to identify with your online profile; your profile may become you.
This is a subconscious process as well — the rational mind always knows there is a distinction between the virtual world and the real world. But it’s not enough.
Someone who tends to identify with their own image on social media may eventually neglect their own real life, and real needs. Because social media has become equally important, or almost as important.
So at that point it doesn’t really matter if you are not happy — you can post pictures and videos of fake happiness, and that’ll be enough.
So unless the quality of your life directly depends on what your profiles look like (for example, if you’re an influencer, or own a business which relies on social media), it’s time to stop focusing so much on it, and start focusing on your life.
The one that’s offline.
It feels great to see those notifications about likes and new followers. Or even just replies to a comment you’ve made.
What’s even more addictive is, those notifications are almost always random. You can post a comment and expect to see a certain number of likes or views, but it’s never guaranteed.
Human beings love things that are random. So combine that with a sense of achievement, or social approval, and it becomes really, really addictive.
Kind of like a slot machine where you never know when you’ll hit a jackpot, and when you do, you win real money.
If posting happy pictures increases the chances of getting likes and views, guess what — that’s precisely what you’ll do. Whether those pictures are genuine or not.
Then each time you do get likes, you get positive reinforcement. And you want to do it again, and again. That’s basically how it works.
Fake happiness on social media quotes
Social media is an advertisement for the superficial extroverted self.Hozier
No posting. No liking. No sharing. Just living.Unknown
In a funny way, I think social media is making people less rather than more experimental. People are too worried about looking good all the time. When I grew up you could get it all horribly wrong and it didn’t matter, there was no record.Patrick Grant
Don’t compare your real life to someone else’s controlled online content.Laura Distin
Social media has given us this idea that we should all have a posse of friends, when in reality, if we have one or two really good friends, we are lucky.Brene Brown
The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind the scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.Steven Furtick
Psst — don’t forget to check out my collection of 60 social media detox quotes!