Sunday, December 11, 2011

Is Facebook making us miserable by fostering career anxiety?

Happiness guru Professor Martin Seligman has written that earning more money won't make you happy but learning that your neighbor is earning more than you will make you unhappy. Thus, this post from the Harvard Business Journal blog argues that social media, which encourages people to  compare their ordinary lives to the fabulous ones everyone else seems to be having can lead to the kind of career anxiety and general unhappiness Professor Seligman warns about.

Facebook and social networks are increasing anxiety. This is a generation of social media junkies — they're on an average of 2.4 social networks, with 28% getting their first Facebook hit before even rolling out of bed. As Facebook gets better at connecting the world, it has become much easier to peer into one another's lives and see what others are doing. As one investment banker put it: "Hearing about everyone's exciting new jobs on Facebook makes me dread going to work even more." This increased sharing and personal transparency is not just a privacy issue; it's causing everyone to (consciously or subconsciously) compare themselves ever more frequently to friends and peers. This is problematic, since studies have repeatedly shown that comparing yourself to others is a primary source of unhappiness.


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