If Twitter doesn’t make you happy or put a smile on your face, then you’re not following the right people. This comes from a Twitter account specializing in inspirational quotes. It speaks some truth, but the whole truth is that it doesn’t have to be just Twitter. In this era of everything online finding us, we can become really depressed if we’re not selective. To be happy, our wholesale online activities have to concern “the right people”.

Facebook can showcase our friends’ exotic vacations that we can be envious of, or political comments that make our blood boil whether we agree with them or not. Hate speech is also normal on Twitter.

Instagram is a source of gossip that can be depressing. Even arguments on normal web boards usually are more heated than if the debaters had spoken face to face.  Online life is full of stress. People’s moods can be change drastically once they return home from a nice reunion with old friends and sit in front of their computers and see pictures or comments they don’t like. The truth is that vacations are taken all the time and controversial political ideologies or thinking are always there, but the technology brings all the stressful stuff into our home.

People can be forgiven if they think they can’t hide from the depressing content. Being with “the right people” online is easier said than done. But it’s not impossible. There are people who can manage living an old lifestyle without losing anything. The new concept of being happy doesn’t even require people to leave social media entirely. It just promotes the idea of being selective in online engagement and staying away from as many potential sources of depression as possible.

The “strategy” is simple. Online connections or communications should be with people we care about and who can be genuinely supportive in times of need. This is opposed to accepting all “friend” requests or being connected with everyone we know, whose activities or thinking can trigger our depression. Our own cyber activities, meanwhile, should be geared toward enriching our knowledge or exposing ourselves to humour and other feel-good factors.

The rest of the strategy is the easy, albeit a taken-for-granted part of our lives – real face to face human communications, which, again should be with people we love. Political or ideological debate can be easy to avoid, but the “fear of missing out” has been exacerbated over the past few years as Line, Facebook and other key social media tools become a major part of people’s lives. Everybody else seems to have a better life. There seem to be good and fun professions everywhere. Other families appear to smile all the time. Dream vacations are taken and updated on a daily basis.

Stress can be caused by the natural failure to acknowledge that the things we read or see social media happen regardless of whether we know about them or not, and that those things are just snapshots and don’t really reflect how people live. Another thing is that if we feel unhappy seeing someone being happy, there’s something wrong in the relationship, which may require some serious distance. Many studies have confirmed that social media is double-edged sword, one that can give as well as take. Happiness is that case in point. we can be deeply stressed after logging on, or we can actually smile. The good news is it’s choice to go into cyberspace and be with “the right people”.


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