Does checking facebook make you unhappy

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Why do we check Facebook?

Can checking Facebook make you unhappy?
Before i can answer that question i need to first give you a brief idea about the way your mind interacts with social networking sites.

Most people check Facebook to see the new notifications and updates they got. According to motivation psychology one of the most powerful motivational sources is variable rewards where you can't really expect what you are going to find. (see also Why do i check Facebook over and over)

Because most people can't really guess the types of updates they will find and because they can never know what they might find the next time they check their Facebook they get strongly motivated to check it every now and then. (see also Why candy crush is so popular)

Does checking Facebook make you unhappy?

Do you remember the last time you ate so much that you weren't able to even look at the remaining food on the table?

The reason you weren't able to even look at the food is that you were so full that you were in no mood to eat. Now what if someone forced you to eat even though you were that full?

Certainly you are going to feel really bad. Now the problem with Facebook is that the updates you see in your homepage will rarely match your mood. One day you might find yourself in a mood to laugh only to find that all the updates you are getting are about politics.

On another day you might be in the mood to talk about politics only to find people posting uninteresting pictures of their babies! In other words, we like the things that resonate with our moods and because Facebook presents us with random data we usually end up seeing something that we didn't want to see. (see also Music psychology explained )

The news feed, expectations and disappointments

Each time you check Facebook you will be full of hopes. You will always be hoping to find that friend request you have been waiting for, you will always be waiting for that message that never arrived or you will always be waiting for that life changing event to happen.

Because of all of these expectation most people end up feeling disappointed after checking Facebook. After all if you were waiting for a life changing event then found someone posting a picture of his new baby you would get seriously disappointed.

In other words, most people end up feeling bad after checking their Facebook homes except for the rare times where the updates match their expectations or moods.

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